India lose another key player in Rahul for crucial third Test against England

india lose another key player in rahul for crucial third test against england

KL Rahul plays a shot during the first Test match between India and England. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

The blows keep coming for India in their series against England after KL Rahul, who sat out the second Test with a quad injury, reportedly failed to prove his fitness ahead of the third instalment that starts in Rajkot on Thursday.

Rahul was expected to slot back into India’s No 4 berth after the selectors dropped Shreyas Iyer; boasting eight Test centuries from 50 caps, he would have also brought some much needed experience with Virat Kohli now out of the entire series for personal reasons.

But the Indian Express have reported that Rahul’s quad injury still requires a further week of monitoring by their medical staff before the fourth Test in Ranchi that starts on 23 February. The hosts, having levelled the series at 1-1 last week, must now look elsewhere.

Not that the next in line appears too shabby by way of record. Though yet to be capped at Test level, right-hander Sarfaraz Khan currently averages 69.85 in first-class cricket – the fourth highest figure in history among batters with a minimum of 50 innings after Don Bradman (95.14), Vijay Merchant (71.64) and George Headley (69.86).

The 26-year-old, who came on as a sub fielder during India’s win in the second Test, recently made scores of 161, 55 and 96 against England Lions. However, with Rajat Patidar having only made his Test debut at No 5 last week, returning scores of 32 and nine, India’s middle order is suddenly as green as the English spin attack it comes up against.

One option would have been to turn back to Chesteshwar Pujara on his home ground in Rajkot, not least with the 36-year-old veteran of 103 Test caps having scored his 62nd first-class century during the latest round of the Ranji Trophy.

But having dropped Pujara after last year’s defeat to Australia in the World Test Championship final, India’s selectors appear set on blooding the next generation and have now added the uncapped Devdutt Padikkal to their squad.

There was one positive from India’s return to training on Monday, at least, after Ravindra Jadeja emerged from the session unscathed. The all-rounder missed the second Test with a hamstring injury but is striving to return on his home ground.

England, back from a six-day break in Abu Dhabi, have seen Jack Leach ruled out of the series with a knee injury.

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