IND vs ENG: What could be India's middle order for third Test? Predicted XI for Rajkot Test

IND vs ENG: What could be India's middle order for third Test? Predicted XI for Rajkot Test

IND vs ENG: What could be India's middle order for third Test? Predicted XI for Rajkot Test

India haven’t been challenged in long time the way England have in the ongoing Test series and the contest could only get more intense with both teams gearing up for the third Test at Rajkot, starting on 15 February. The series is currently level 1-1 and while England spinners and batters have stepped up in alien subcontinent conditions to allow the Bazball-inspired team give a great account of itself, the injuries to Team India players and key personnel missing from the home team squad has also played its role in making the series an even contest so far. This has further raised interest in what would be India’s playing XI and the middle-order for the Rajkot Test as the hosts are expected to hand out at least one debut.

One of the best in the business, Kohli missed the first two Tests due to personal reasons and has now been ruled out of the series. KL Rahul is struggling with pain in right quadriceps and is set to miss the Rajkot Test after sitting out of Visakhapatnam match. Meanwhile, Shreyas Iyer has been dropped by the selectors after failing to make a single fifty in his last 13 innings.

That’s three big names missing from the middle-order, which opens up the doors for the youngsters and players who are waiting to make their debut.

At Visakhapatnam, Rajat Patidar was handed his debut cap in Test cricket as replacement for Rahul. Now at Rajkot, India will be needing someone to replace Iyer who will be missing the playing XI. The most predictable pick is Sarfaraz Khan.

The Mumbai batter made his way into the squad after multiple successful seasons in Ranji Trophy and while he had to wait to earn his maiden India call-up, it seems like he is set to get his debut cap in the third Test.

Another player who is set to make his debut is Dhruv Jurel in place of wicketkeeper-batter KS Bharat. Jurel has only played 15 First-Class matches for Uttar Pradesh but has made an impression with an average of 46.47, while Bharat, despite his good keeping, has failed to make it count with the bat, with just 92 runs in four innings.

With India’s middle-order losing steel in absence of Kohli, Rahul and Iyer, the hosts are in mood to bolster their middle-order and that could see Jurel playing at Rajkot.

Another indication of the Rajasthan Royals player making debut is the video that BCCI uploaded this morning on X (formerly Twitter).

Who will be the spinners and pacers?

After Mukesh Kumar’s one-wicket outing at Visakhapatnam, Mohammed Siraj is all set to comeback after a rest in the second Test. The Hyderabad pacer was seen bowling full tilt at nets on Tuesday in Rajkot and also received some batting tips from skipper Rohit Sharma.

Jasprit Bumrah has been the best bowler in the series so far with 15 wickets to his name and India are unlikely to drop him before the series is sealed.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who is back from hamstring injury, are guaranteed of a place in the playing XI.

This leaves only one spot where Team India management have to make a tough choice: who should play between Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel?

Axar wins the race if India consider batting as a priority in absence of stalwarts like Kohli and Rahul, but we mustn’t forget that Kuldeep with his unorthodox bowling has the potential to change the game that the left-arm spinner probably doesn’t have.

Kuldeep took four wickets at Visakhapatnam and helped India level the series. Also, Jadeja has already revealed that the Rajkot pitch will be batting friendly in which case a wicket-taker should be India’s priority.

India predicted XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Jurel (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.

England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Ben Foakes (wk), Rehan Ahmed, Tom Hartley, Mark Wood, James Anderson.