For the first time in two years, Gautam Gambhir has been re-called into the India Test side with the Delhi opener replacing the injured KL Rahul for the remaining two Tests against New Zealand. Ishant Sharma who missed the first Test with Chikungunya will not take part in the second Test either as he hasn’t fully recovered from his illness and the uncapped off-spinner Jayant Yadav has been drafted into the squad.
Good form in the recently-concluded Duleep Trophy where he scored a fifty in four of the five innings and amassed 356 runs at an average of 71.20 in three matches mean that Gambhir has got the nod to replace Rahul, who injured his right hamstring in the first Test while running between the wickets.
Speaking to Cricinfo, a BCCI insider said, “Gambhir is definitely under consideration because he has been doing extremely well, and even the team management feels that with 12-13 Test matches coming up there needs to be some experience [at the top].”
BCCI confirmed the news on their Twitter handle and also said that they will “continue to monitor Ishant’s progress”.
The 34-year-old opener who played his last Test during India’s tour of England in August 2014 will hope to take part in the second Test that starts on Friday. He will be looking to fare much better than that England series where he scored just 25 in four innings as India lost a 1-0 lead and lost the series 3-1 in what was also a comeback series for him after being dropped in 2012 and missed Tests in 2013 due to poor form.
Although he was one half of one of India’s best-ever Test opening pair with Virender Sehwag, he has struggled to make a comeback into the Test side since the England tour in 2014.
While the inclusion of Gambhir is warranted on current form, the presence of uncapped Jayant Yadav in the squad, who has only played 42 first-class matches will certainly raise a few eyebrows. Although he did well in the Quadrangular A-series in Australia, he hasn’t played too much first-class cricket of late aside from the two unofficial games against Australia A.
The news will also come as a huge disappointment for Kuldeep Yadav, who was impressive in the Duleep Trophy and might have thought he would be in contention given his recent form and the variety he might provide. In the end though, the selectors went with another off-spinner and while an off-spinner replacing a fast bowler will certainly be questioned, the fact that he might just be in the squad and probably won’t play means the response won’t be massive.