T Natarajan will have to wait for his Test debut as the Indian team management is reportedly set to prefer Shardul Thakur over the left-arm pacer in the third Test against Australia. Both the bowlers are in contention after Umesh Yadav was ruled out of the series because of the calf injury he had sustained in the second Test at the MCG.
Yadav suffered the injury while bowling his first spell in the second innings. He was in his fourth over when limped over on completing his follow-through and looked to be in a lot of pain. The pacer walked off the field straightaway and did not return later. Scans later confirmed that he had suffered a calf injury.
And while initial reports suggested that the pacer is only out for the third Test, PTI has reported that he will miss the entire series. According to the report, Yadav is heading home for rehabilitation after being ruled out of the fourth and final Test in Brisbane as well.
With Yadav out of the series, Shardul Thakur is likely to get the nod to replace him. The report quoted a source as saying that Shardul would be preferred over T Natarajan because of his experience. The source recalled Shardul’s forgettable Test debut against West Indies in 2018 where he had managed to bowl just ten deliveries before walking off the field with an injury.
“While people are excited about the brilliant progress shown by T Natarajan, we mustn’t forget he has played only one first class match for Tamil Nadu. And Shardul has been a seasoned domestic red ball pacer for Mumbai,” a BCCI source privy to developments in Australia told PTI.
“Shardul was really unfortunate that his Test debut against West Indies ended abruptly due to injury even before he could bowl an over. He has been shaping up well and might replace Umesh in the playing XI,” the source added.
The final call regarding Yadav’s replacement will be taken by the head coach Ravi Shastri, stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane and bowling coach Bharathi Arun after reaching Sydney. While Shardul has bowled just ten deliveries in Tests so far, he has ample experience in red-ball cricket. So far, he has played 62 first class games and has picked up 206 wickets.
Shardul’s batting will also tilt the balance in his favour. India’s tail has struggled to contribute with the bat in the series so far and Shardul could provide some much-needed solidity. He has six first class half centuries and during his stint with the national team in white ball games, he has proved to be a decent batsman.
“Obviously the next few training sessions will be important and that’s why the final call is likely to be taken in Sydney,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the four-match series is currently locked at 1-1. The third Test is scheduled to be played from January 7 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
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