Ishant Sharma (left) is not likely to play the fourth Test at Old Trafford © Getty Images
Ishant Sharma, the hero of Lord’s, injured himself and is a doubtful starter for the fourth Test as well. It is a big blow for India as they have inexperience on the bench to replace him. Nishad Pai Vaidya discusses whether India should call-up Umesh Yadav as a cover.
Following the high at Lord’s India were grounded at Southampton. And to make it worse for India, skipper MS Dhoni announced at the post-match presentation that the star of Lord’s, Ishant Sharma, is a doubtful starter for the fourth Test at Manchester. It is a huge blow to India, with their bowlers struggling to make a mark at Southampton. Though they have the numbers on the bench in that department, the lack of experience would be a worry, for Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey have played just one Test between them. What should India do in such a situation?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is one bowler who would hold on to his spot for Manchester given the fact that he has had a good overall series. There is a bit of an injury cloud around him though, as reports suggest. Pankaj Singh and Mohammed Shami are the ones who may face the heat. Though Pankaj bowled very well, luck eluded him and he couldn’t take a wicket in the match. It all goes back to that catch of Alastair Cook that was spilled in the first innings. Things could have been very different had Ravindra Jadeja latched on to it. On the other hand, Shami hasn’t found consistency for a while now.
A suggestion that came from one of the commentators was that India could do well to call up Umesh Yadav, who has finished a decent series in Australia. Yadav had recently played against Bangladesh in that three-match One-Day International (ODI) series and then went to Australia for the India A side. In the second match in that series, he took a fifer. Yadav has not played a Test since the November 2012, which was against England at Ahmedabad.
The selectors may consider putting him on a flight as cover. Yadav is a naturally fast bowler, and is a wicket-taker. Though he can be a touch expensive, he is one man who can bring value to the side. Aaron too shares similar qualities, but Yadav seems to be a little more dependable. Having said that, Aaron also had a very good domestic season for Jharkhand, and was one of the most consistent bowlers in the Ranji Trophy.
There is one major worry for India, as one of the commentators mentioned. The players on the bench haven’t had a game since the practice matches before the first Test at Nottingham. Aaron played in the first week of July. On the other hand, Yadav’s last game started on July 13. But, even if Yadav is considered, he wouldn’t have bowled in a game for almost three weeks when the fourth Test begins on August 7.
Sending Yadav to England as a cover may be a good idea, as it may give MS Dhoni another option with Ishant struggling to find fitness. When compared to the others, Yadav would have had the most recent match practice, but that too may not be enough to judge his rhythm on August 7.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)