3 players who can replace Cheteshwar Pujara in third Test against England
Not many would argue against the fact that there is hardly any batsman in Indian cricket at the moment who is timing the ball better than Suryakumar Yadav. After years of toil in the domestic circuit and in the IPL for the Mumbai Indians, Suryakumar finally got his chance to wear the India Blue against England.
Slamming a fifty on international debut, the Mumbai lad made his intentions clear that he was here to stay. Impressive performances against Sri Lanka followed as he was adjudged the Player of the Series in ODIs.
With injuries to Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar and Avesh Khan, Team India called up Suryakumar Yadav and Prithvi Shaw as covers for the Test series against England. The duo has completed quarantine and is available for selection. Suryakumar has played 77 first class games and has a decent average of 44.01.
Hanuma Vihari's heroic innings in Sydney seems like a distant memory now as India have found a new combination wherein the Andhra batsman doesn't fit. India's strategy to go in with five bowlers and play Rishabh Pant as a pure batsman who can keep at No.6 has kept Vihari out of the picture for a while.
However, Vihari has shown that he is a team-man and is also versatile enough to bat in a different position according to the needs of the team. Having opened in the Boxing Day Test of the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Vihari can do a job at No.3 if needed.
Besides, Vihari has also being playing county cricket even before the Indian team arrived in England for the World Test Championship final. Thus, he could well be in contention if India are looking to replace Cheteshwar Pujara.
The man that is probably leading the race for the No.3 spot as far as backups are concerned is Mayank Agarwal. The opener was set to play the first Test, but was hit on the helmet through a bouncer from Mohammed Siraj in the nets. He suffered from concussion and KL Rahul replaced him at the top of the order.
With an improved technique and admirable willingness to leave the ball outside off-stump, KL Rahul grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring a fifty and a hundred in four innings.
However, Agarwal has also had some impressive numbers as he is the third-fastest Indian to a thousand Test runs. He had just a couple of bad games Down Under due to which he saw Shubman Gill replace him as the incumbent opener. But if there is a need to replace Cheteshwar Pujara, Agarwal has the technique and temperament to be successful at No.3.