If it was for Gautam Gambhir, he would picked left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav any day as the former opener expressed his surprise at India’s playing eleven for the first Test against England which got underway from Friday in Chennai. Kuldeep was left out of the final eleven with Shahbaz Nadeem making the cut alongside Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar.

“Little unfortunate on Kuldeep to be honest,” Gambhir told ESPNcricinfo in an interview “I thought they will actually pick a left-arm wrist spinner against England, which is a rare commodity. Kuldeep would have been a great asset. You got to use him first up in the series. You do not want to wait till the second or third Test.”

Kuldeep last played a Test in January 2019 and was expected to get a game with Ravindra Jadeja missing the first two Tests. With Axar Patel being ruled out on the morning of the first Test, it seemed even more likely that the chinaman will be part of the India bowling attack.

“Wrist spinners can turn the matches. It’s surprising that we are playing with two offspinners. Probably because they want a little more depth in the batting at No. 7 and No. 8,” Gambhir said. “I would have picked Kuldeep any day. He would have given you an attacking option especially when a batter is set.”

Veteran fast bowler Ishant Sharma, who missed the Australia tour after failing to gain full fitness in time, made his return but Gambhir also disagreed with his selection. “A big surprise was Ishant Sharma as well because he hasn’t played lot of red-ball cricket lately and (Mohammed) Siraj has been in fabulous form,” the 39-year-old, who played 58 Tests during his international career, said.

He continued, “Playing T20 cricket after an injury and then playing Test match is completely different ball game when you have to bowl 17-18 overs in a day and you are playing just two seamers. Obviously he has the experience but whether he has the rhythm, bowling fitness we have to wait and watch.”