Fit Axar Patel back in nets, Shahbaz Nadeem set to be dropped, 2nd Test pitch might offer more turn


PTI, Feb 11, 2021, 12:00 PM IST

New Delhi: Indian playing XI during the upcoming second Test in Chennai will at least have one change with Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem set to be dropped after a disappointing performance in the series opener against England.

While Nadeem’s replacement will be decided by Friday, one can expect allrounder Axar Patel, who is now match-fit, to replace him.

India were outplayed in the first Test that ended on Tuesday.

“Axar had a minor knee niggle and has already started batting at the nets. He is expected to start bowling during the next couple of days.”

“He was always first choice to play the opening Test but it will depend on skipper Virat Kohli, head coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharath Arun,” a senior BCCI source told PTI on Wednesday.

Indian captain Virat Kohli didn’t hide his disappointment when it came to Nadeem’s performance during the post-match presentation where he said that Nadeem and Sundar couldn’t keep up the pressure that was created by Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, and Ravichandran Ashwin.

Nadeem had four wickets in all but gave away 233 runs in 59 overs across two innings with an economy rate of close to 4 runs per over.

And if that wasn’t enough, as a slow bowler, a total of nine balls at the Test match level is considered to be criminal.

Nadeem himself admitted that he has had some issues with the timing of his jump at the crease and he needs to sort that out in the nets.

Washington bowled 26 overs for 98 runs in the first innings and got a solitary over in the second innings.

However, Washington, who was impressive with the bat in the first innings, is likely to retain his place in the playing XI.

Ashwin hurt by Archer’s short ball but is okay. Welcome news for India fans will be Ravichandran Ashwin is doing fine and although he sustained a painful blow from a Jofra Archer short ball during the Indian second innings and needed immediate attention from the physio Nitin Patel.

India’s best bowling performer in Chennai wasn’t required to go for any precautionary scans which will certainly be a relief for Kohli as he expects a friendlier pitch during the next Test starting from Saturday.

New Chepauk strip may offer some turn from Day 1. After one of the flattest decks on offer during the first Test in Chennai, task will be cut out for Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s rookie curator V Ramesh Kumar and BCCI head of pitches and grounds committee head Taposh Chatterjee, to provide a track which doesn’t make toss so crucial.

While currently there was grass cover on one of the adjacent strips, which could be used for the second match, it is a given that their will be fair share of turn.

It will be interesting to see unlike the first Test when there was liberal sprinkling of water and fair share of rolling, whether Ramesh and Chatterjee stop watering the track during next three days.

If a dry pitch is baked adequately in sunshine, there could always be a case of pitch breaking early.

There is always this school of thought in Indian cricket circles as to why questions are raised about tracks that offer turn from first day whereas in places like Chrischurch in New Zealand, the 22-yard strip couldn’t be identified from the outfield.

Ditto for Basin Reserve in Wellington where the ball was jagging around from the first hour.

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