The Indian Cricket Board has named the 30-year-old Rajat Patidar as Virat Kohli's replacement for the first two Tests against the visiting English side. The Madhya Pradesh batsman on a tear, has been a consistent performer in the domestic circuit for some time now and has been on the fringes of India's selection.
Kohli's reasons for opting out opened a crucial middle-order slot, and Patidar's recent exploits against the England Lions, where he amassed scores of 111 and 151, made him an irresistible choice. But this isn't Patidar's first international dance. Fans saw him make his ODI debut for India only recently, against South Africa, showcasing his composure and clean hitting in a brief innings.
However, Patidar's emergence carries deeper implications. His selection ahead of seasoned veterans like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane seems to confirm a changing guard within the Indian Test setup. The Board's faith in Patidar signifies a shift towards meritocracy and a willingness to back in-form, uncapped players, even if it means leaving behind established names.
Test Debut unlikely
While Rajat Patidar's Test debut seems unlikely at this stage, his inclusion in the squad carries significant weight beyond appearances. The young gun, fresh off some sparkling performances against the England Lions, will benefit immensely from the experience of rubbing shoulders with cricket's elite. In case he is handed the elusive Test Cap, he could be an X-factor for India as his exceptional handling of spin bowling is extremely famous. His strong defence and masterful footwork, honed on Indian pitches, could prove potent counterpoints to the English spinners' wiles.
The First Test will kick off tomorrow at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad and fans are eagerly waiting for the spectacle. England, under Brendon McCullum's aggressive leadership, has become synonymous with attacking, entertaining cricket. On the other hand, India remains invincible at home, boasting a fortress-like record. The clash between these contrasting styles promises fireworks under the Indian sun.