Who is Akash Deep, the uncapped pacer included in India's squad for last three England Tests

Who is Akash Deep, the uncapped pacer included in India's squad for last three England Tests

Who is Akash Deep, the uncapped pacer included in India's squad for last three England Tests

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) ended speculation surrounding India’s squad for the next three Tests against England, and the absence of Virat Kohli’s name from the squad has by far been the biggest talking point among experts and fans alike.

Kohli had recused himself from national duty shortly before the start of the Hyderabad Test due to “personal reasons”, and would also miss the Visakhapatnam Test, which India ended up winning by 106 runs to level the series 1-1 after suffering a 28-run loss in the series opener. Additionally, neither Kohli nor the BCCI has offered details on the specifics behind the star batter’s absence.

Shreyas Iyer, who had batted at his No 4 spot in the first two Tests, was also not included for the remainder of the series after a poor run across the first two Tests. He also failed to get going in the two-Test series in South Africa, and speculations currently doing the rounds on social media paint a story of the Mumbai batter getting dropped from the side after a string of poor performances.

Both KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja have been included in the squad for now after missing the Vizag Test due to injury, and their participation in the remainder of the series remains subject to clearance from the medical team. Also getting included in pacer Mohammed Siraj, who is likely to return to the XI in Rajkot after being rested for the second Test as a precautionary measure.

Amidst all the discussion over some of the more familiar names, there’s also the inclusion of one Akash Deep that will have piqued the interest of a section of Indian cricket fans. Bengal cricket Akash Deep has earned a maiden call-up into the Indian team, and will be hoping to receive a maiden cap as well at some point in the series.

But who exactly is Akash Deep? We delve deeper into the cricketer’s background:

Much like senior pacers Mohammed Shami and Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep represents Bengal in domestic cricket but isn’t originally from that state. Son of a school teacher, Akash was born in the town of Dehri in Bihar’s Rohtas district on 15 December, 1996, and would move to Bengal in 2010 where his uncle would support his ambition of becoming a cricketer after he faced multiple hurdles as a child.

He would make his senior debut for Bengal in all three formats in the year 2019, and has since made 29 First-Class appearances, besides playing 28 List A and 41 T20 matches. The pacer was part of the Bengal sides that reached the final of the Ranji Trophy in 2020 as well as in 2023, where they would finish runners-up on both occasions after losing to Saurashtra.

Akash would finish Bengal’s top wicket-taker in both seasons though in 2019-20 he was tied with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed on 35 scalps, with the latter having a better average and economy. Overall, Akash has 103 First-Class wickets at an average of 23.18 and an economy of 3.04 with best bowling figures of 6/60 that came in only his second First-Class appearance — against Gujarat in the 2019-20 season.

Akash has had a fine run with the ball of late, finishing the leading wicket-taker for India A in their unofficial three-Test series against England Lions — collecting 11 wickets at an average of 18.72. His heroics in that series might have boosted his chances of getting picked for the remainder of the series, even if as a back-up to Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and fellow Bihar-born Bengal teammate Mukesh.

As for his white-ball record, Akash had been picked up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2022 season. In seven outings across two seasons, Akash has six wickets to his credit and a best bowling display of 3/45 against Kolkata Knight Riders in his maiden season.