Injuries to several players has prompted the BCCI senior selection committee to delay naming the squad for the tour of South Africa. The Indian Express understands that at least four players – Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shubman Gill and Ishant Sharma – are doubtful for the trip as they will take some months to be completely fit.
Left-arm spin has been India’s strength of late, especially at home, but with Jadeja and Patel unfit, selectors may not have a viable back-up option in South Africa. Jadeja has a ligament tear while Patel has a stress fracture. In any case, Ravichandran Ashwin is expected to be the lead spinner and there is rarely a need to play more than one specialist tweaker in the Rainbow Nation.
Jadeja missed the second Test against New Zealand in Mumbai where Patel had a decent showing with bat and ball. A source in the cricket board informed that Jadeja’s ligament tear will take months to heal and if he undergoes surgery, he will only get fit before the Indian Premier League next year.
In its press release before the Mumbai Test, the BCCI had given swelling in the forearm as the reason for Jadeja missing the game. “All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja suffered a right forearm injury during the 1st Test match in Kanpur. After undergoing scans, he was diagnosed with a swelling on his forearm. He has been advised rest and is thus ruled out of the 2nd Test in Mumbai,” the release stated.
It is learnt that Patel’s initial report showed a stress reaction which takes a minimum of six weeks to heal. He had a dream start in Tests earlier this year when he took 27 wickets against the visiting England team.
The selectors will take a final decision on whether to send Patel to South Africa based on medical assessment after his scans.
If the selectors have to pick a left-arm spinner, they have Shahbaz Nadeem and Saurabh Kumar – the latter a part of the India A team currently playing in South Africa – to choose from.
It is learnt that the selectors are not sure whether to send Gill to South Africa as his shin injury has resurfaced. The youngster had missed the Test series in England due to the same problem and suffered pain again during the Mumbai Test. He also took a blow on his left forearm while fielding during the second Test. He was taken for a precautionary scan and didn’t take the field. With Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as first-choice openers and Mayank Agarwal excelling against New Zealand, India doesn’t have a paucity of options at the top of the order.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Sharma has a side strain and will take time to be match fit. The veteran seamer’s returns have tapered off in recent times and several youngsters – most notably Mohammed Siraj – have been impressive of late. Hence, Sharma is no longer a certainty in the Indian Test line-up. The selectors were anyways mulling options to replace Sharma for the South Africa series. It is understood that the board wanted a second opinion on the injuries and the four players stayed back in Mumbai and underwent scans on Tuesday. India will play three Tests and three ODIs in South Africa starting on December 26.
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