3 Players for whom the Afghanistan Test is important
A look at the reserve players who could be useful options in England
The Indian Test team has been at the top of the ICC rankings for almost couple of years now. After having a very successful season at home in 2016-17, the team faltered in the first assignment outside Asia losing the series against South Africa 2-1.
Although the team lost the series, there were enough glimpses of their potential to succeed in the seaming and bouncy conditions. They fought back well on a difficult pitch at the Wanderers to secure a consolation victory.
Team India now has a couple of difficult overseas tours of England and Australia in the second half of the year. Prior to that, the team will play a solitary Test against Afghanistan at Bangalore.
The selectors rested the pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah in addition to the regular captain Virat Kohli, who could not feature in his planned county stint due to an injury, for the Afghanistan Test.
With Rohit Sharma dropped and Wriddhiman Saha also injured, there is an opportunity for the players who have been in the reserves to stake a claim in the regular playing XI. Here, let us take a look at the players for whom the Afghanistan Test is very important taking into account the England tour ahead.
#1 Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav played a vital role during the great home run of Team India supporting the spinners with vital breakthroughs.
He maintained great fitness level and played 12 out of the 13 Tests in the season bowling with good pace and an improved control over his lines and lengths. Umesh established himself as the leader of the pace attack snaring 17 wickets against Australia in four matches.
After being lauded as the most improved Indian bowler of the season, Umesh was seen primarily as the Test-specialist with the selectors managing the workload of the pacers.
He was rested for the shorter formats against Sri Lanka and could get just a single game in the ODI series against Australia.
In the Tests, he was among the first choice fast bowlers for the Sri Lanka series, both away and home, but did not have great numbers returning with just 11 wickets in five matches.
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma performing better than him, the Vidarbha pacer lost his spot in Test XI too.
Jasprit Bumrah too got an opportunity to play during the tour to South Africa because of his unusual action and the variety he provided to the attack.
Yadav also did not get enough chances to represent his domestic team Vidarbha during their title-winning season being a part of the national squad.
Representing Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, Yadav was in a great rhythm and was fourth leading wicket-taker with 20 wickets.
With the long tour of England coming up, the Afghanistan Test provides him a great opportunity to secure a berth in the first-choice playing XI.