Selection dilemma: Patidar, Pujara, Sarfaraz, and Sudharsan as potential replacements for Virat Kohli
India contemplates replacements for Virat Kohli in the upcoming England Tests, considering the credentials of Rajat Patidar, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sarfaraz Khan, and B Sai Sudharsan.
With Virat Kohli unavailable for the first two home Tests against England, the spotlight turns to potential replacements from India's domestic circuit. This article explores four consistent performers who could be in contention for the crucial spot.
Rajat Patidar, the Ranji Trophy winner from Madhya Pradesh, has been a standout performer, particularly at No. 4. Recently showcasing his resilience with a remarkable 151 in the unofficial Test against England Lions, Patidar boasts impressive numbers - 4000 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 45.97, including 12 centuries. Overcoming a prolonged stint on the fringes due to a heel injury, he made his ODI debut in December during the South Africa tour.
Continuing to grind through the domestic season, Cheteshwar Pujara recently achieved the milestone of 20,000 first-class runs. The seasoned campaigner, with 103 Tests under his belt, opened the season with an unbeaten 243 and has maintained consistent scores. Pujara's wealth of experience and current form position him as a strong contender for the crucial vacancy.
Known for his punchy style, Sarfaraz Khan predominantly bats at No. 5 for Mumbai and has been a consistent performer in the last four seasons. Despite a somewhat patchy form for India A, Sarfaraz boasts an exceptional first-class average of 68.20, with a unique ability to tackle spin. His recent half-century against England Lions and contributions in the first unofficial Test underline his potential impact on turning tracks.
B Sai Sudharsan:
Rising swiftly in recent times, B Sai Sudharsan, the stylish left-hander from Tamil Nadu, has caught the attention of pundits and team management. Starting his ODI career with back-to-back half-centuries in South Africa, Sudharsan has been part of India A's red-ball mix. His impressive 2022-23 Ranji season and a notable 97 against England Lions in the recent first-class outing further bolster his case as a potential replacement for Kohli.
As India considers options to fill the void left by Kohli, the performances and strengths of these four players - Patidar, Pujara, Sarfaraz, and Sudharsan - present a compelling narrative. The decision rests on the team management's assessment of form, experience, and suitability for the upcoming England Tests.