Hyderabad's dust has settled with India having endured a disappointing defeat in the first Test. Battered but not broken, Rohit Sharma's men now shift their focus to the Visakhapatnam Test, a battleground where they must strategize a crucial comeback to level the series against England. However, the road ahead is riddled with roadblocks, as key injuries to KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja have forced India to scramble for replacements.
Rahul was ruled out after he complained of pain in his right quadriceps while Jadeja pulled his hamstring during the Hyderabad game. As such, India will have to make changes to their line-up for the second game which will commence on February 2. Here's a look at three changes that India can make for the upcoming match:
Washington Sundar in Place of Jadeja, Sarfaraz Khan in for KL Rahul
Replacing Ravindra Jadeja is no easy feat. The southpaw's all-round abilities are priceless, his left-arm spin a constant threat, and his gritty batting often a match-winner. Finding a like-for-like replacement seems impossible, but Washington Sundar could be entrusted with the responsibility. The 24-year-old Tamil Nadu lad, who has played four Tests, possesses similar bowling qualities to Jadeja. His off-spin boasts accuracy, capable of choking the opposition. But unlike Jadeja, he is not a wicket-taker. However, Sundar is a technically sound batter and that will certainly help the cause.
Rahul's absence creates a different kind of headache. With a century in South Africa and a strong performance in the first Test, he has cemented his position in the middle order. opener. His unavailability now could pave the way for Sarfaraz Khan's much-awaited Test debut. The Mumbai batsman, known for his flamboyant strokeplay and hunger for runs, has been on a tear in domestic cricket, amassing mountains of runs with a breathtaking average of 80 in the Ranji Trophy in the last few years. His recent 161 against the England Lions, could push the management to give him a chance straightaway.
Saurabh Kumar in for Jadeja, Rajat Patidar in for Rahul
India could also opt to hand a Test debut to left-arm spinner, Saurabh Kumar. What could go in favour of Kumar is his superior bowling credentials in comparison to Sundar. The 30-year-old Kumar has picked up almost 300 first-class wickets at an average of below 25 which proves that he has a phenomenal skill set and experience.
Rohit Sharma and Co. can look to fill the void created by KL Rahul's absence by bringing in Rajat Patidar into the lineup. Patidar, another 30-year-old, has scored 4000 runs in the first-class arena at an average of just under 46. He has been in good form in recent times, having scored two tons against the England Lions and his high-quality game has been highly talked about in the last few years. As such, with the wicket in Vizag likely to be a raging turner, Patidar's tight defense and counter-attacking game could be a game-changer for India.
Sundar and Saurabh Kumar in for Jadeja and Mohammed Siraj, Patidar in for KL Rahul
India could also look to play both Sundar and Kumar in the Visakhapa Test by benching Mohammed Siraj. Siraj didn't have a lot of bowling to do and that is likely to be the case in the second Test as well. England thrived with an attack comprising just one pacer and so, the Indians could be tempted to take a leaf out of the visitors' book. This change will provide India with an attacking spinner in Kumar and an all-round option in Sundar. As for the vacancy in the middle-order, India can go ahead with Patidar.