To retain Shreyas Iyer or not to retain him: that is the question. It was precisely what was raised just after India leveled the series 1-1 in the second Test in Visakhapatnam. And he has remained in the spotlight in the build-up to the third Test against England in Rajkot amid his run of low scores in this series: 35, 13, 27, 29. The 29-year-old has gone 13 consecutive innings without annotate. even a fifty, where he averages just 17, and is yet to score his second Test century since his debut appearance in November 2021; that’s a stretch of 23 innings.
However, the dilemma of the selection committee, which met on Friday to choose the team for the final three Tests against England, was partially resolved as Iyer was reported to have complained of stiffness in his back and pain in his groin at team management after the second test. . But if he misses out, who will replace him in the playing XI for the third Test, which begins on February 15 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium?
KL Rahul, a probable exchange
With Virat Kohli also reportedly missing the last three matches against England, having earlier withdrawn from the first two matches due to personal reasons, Rahul is set to reclaim the No. 4 spot. He had earlier missed the second Test after complaining of quadriceps pain after the opening match in Hyderabad. But having had enough time to recover since then, Rahul will be an ideal option for the team management to take over and bring some experience to the line-up. He had scored a fluid 86 in the first innings of the Hyderabad game.
Is Cheteshwar Pujara a solution?
The veteran India batsman has been in impressive form in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season. On Friday, Cheteshwar Pujara scored his 62nd first-class hundred against Rajasthan in the Elite Group A match in Jaipur. It was his second three-figure score in this edition of the red-ball tournament, where he is the third highest run-getter, having amassed 648 runs in six matches, including two fifties.
India are less likely to return to Pujara, who last appeared in the WTC final against Australia in June 2023, having decided to invest in younger options during the current Test Championship cycle. However, last year, when Iyer suffered a back injury during the Border-Gavaskar series, India relied on Ajinkya Rahane for the WTC final and the West Indies tour. Although not a proper comeback, India could go back to Pujara, a reliable option, as a stopgap solution.
What about Sarfaraz Khan?
In case the management doesn’t get a positive update on Rahul and feels Pujara’s option is far-fetched, they can always try Sarfaraz for the job. He was added to the team before the second Test after Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja were dropped. Facing Team India, Sarfaraz, who has been constantly knocking on the selectors’ doors, scored 161 runs in 160 balls, combined with 18 fours and 5 sixes. He currently averages 69.85, with 14 centuries in 45 games in first-class cricket.