The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the squad for the first two Tests against Australia. The upcoming series marks Team India's final endeavor in the ongoing World Test Championship (WTC).
The Rohit Sharma-led outfit is currently second in the standings and ideally requires a win over the visitors to cement their place in the finals for the second time running.
As always, the selection calls induced and triggered a set of raging debates among pundits as well as fans on the social media platform. The squad for the first two Tests does not feature key players like Rishabh Pant and Jasprit Bumrah. While the right-arm pacer could potentially make it in time for the second half of the series, the wicket-keeper is expected to be out for the majority of the year.
A maiden red-ball call-up for Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav's presence, and Jaydev Unadkat being retained were some of the prime takeaways from the squad.
Another key aspect is the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja. While the all-rounder's participation is subject to fitness, his return to the side for the first time since the 2022 Asia Cup is a positive sign. According to reports, he has been asked to play in a domestic contest to prove his fitness.
The depth in talent means that the selection headache is a perennial throbbing one. As a result, there are always a few names, who unfortunately miss out amid the intense competition. Here are three such players who belong in that category.
#1 Sarfaraz Khan
A slight shake-up in the Test middle-order has seen one Mumbai batter replace another. However, Sarfaraz Khan, despite his magnanimous record on the domestic circuit of late, failed to make it to the cut once again.
While the selectors put down his absence due to a poor record for India's 'A' side, one cannot help but feel bad for the Mumbai-born batter who has done almost everything at his current level.
The youngster, clearly frustrated over the recent snub, posted a few of his statistics on his social media platforms. To his credit, another viewing of those numbers makes his omission even more astonishing.
While Suryakumar Yadav has done well in the limited red-ball matches he has played during his break from the national team, his selection over Sarfaraz Khan is once again demeaning to the domestic circuit, which is struggling to hold its value against white-ball formats and the Indian Premier League (IPL).
#2 Abhimanyu Easwaran
The Bengal opening batter was close to making his national team debut after featuring in the squad for the Bangladesh Tests following an injury to Rohit Sharma. However, with KL Rahul leading the side and Shubman Gill showing his merit, it was hard for him to breakthrough despite his exploits for India 'A' prior to the series.
Unfortunately, according to the standard dictate, he lost out on his spot upon the return of Rohit Sharma. He has put up incredible numbers on the domestic circuit, with one of his most recent outings being 165 and 82 not out against Uttrakhand at the venue named after him.
Abhimanyu Easwaran, should however, remain optimistic over his prospects for Team India. He still remains the team's first-choice call-up in case of injury or any other circumstances. He has jumped over the likes of Mayank Agarwal and Priyank Panchal in the pecking order.
Moreover, KL Rahul's poor form and Shubman Gill's shaky record on home soil for India in Test cricket, could mean a potential call-up for Easwaran in the second half of the series. But, being a contingency plan is vastly different from being the first-choice, which leaves him unlucky of not having a spot in the squad in the first place.
#3 Shardul Thakur
The all-rounder comes across as a left-field choice in terms of missing out on the squad. Fast bowling all-rounders are sparingly used in subcontinent conditions and Shardul Thakur's inclusion always depends on the team's combination. He has always proven to be the X-Factor or even the match winner on several occasions in whites.
Barring his maiden Test outing for Team India, all of his subsequent appearances since have come away from home. In his lone home Test outing, he could only bowl 10 deliveries and scored four runs with the bat. However, it is safe to say that he is a completely different player from 2018.
Another field of thought is that his presence could potentially provide depth to the batting unit. The Australian bowling unit has proven to be very well capable of taking all 20 wickets in subcontinent conditions (as they did during their win over Pakistan last year).
The Men in Green were made to pay for their lack of genuine all-rounders, which the Australians took advantage of by running through the tail on most occasions in the three-match affair.
With Axar Patel yet to find his groove as a Test batter, fielding Sharudl Thakur to balance it out would not be the worst idea in the world. However, by the looks of the team selected, India plan on fielding three spinners, two seamers and bank on the batting ability of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel.
Who were the names that you feel were unfortunate to miss out on the India squad for the first two Tests of the Border-Gavaskar series? Let us know what you think.
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