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Have we seen the last of Iyer in whites for a while?

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Last updated on 10 Feb 2024 | 03:03 PM
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Have we seen the last of Iyer in whites for a while?

The BCCI has announced a 17-man squad without any major changes

After much speculation, the BCCI has announced India’s squad for the final three Tests of the ongoing five-match series against England. It is a 17-man squad with no major changes. In this space, we look at a few takeaways that break down the squad for you: 

KL, Jadeja return

The injury update on KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja delayed the squad announcement. Jadeja suffered a hamstring injury during his run out in the second innings of the first Test. Rahul aggravated his quadricep injury, which he picked up during IPL last year. 

Both are included in the 17-man squad. However, their participation is subject to fitness. If fit, Rahul should slot in at number four, replacing Shreyas Iyer. Jadeja is a trickier case given hamstring takes longer to heal. He is likely to sit out in the Rajkot Test, but if he comes in, he can replace any of Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav or Mukesh Kumar.

Iyer r̶e̶s̶t̶e̶d̶  dropped 

The axe has fallen on Shreyas Iyer. While it was reported that the Mumbaikar complained of stiff back and groin pain - injuries that have troubled him for a while - nothing was said about his omission from the squad for the remaining Tests. It leads to the presumption that the 29-year-old has been dropped from the Test team. 

Iyer had a terrific start to his career, averaging 56.7 in his first seven Tests, scoring 624 runs with one hundred and five fifties. Since then, his average has plummeted to 36.9. The right-hander has averaged only 17 since 2023 in seven Tests, dividing his career into halves of two extremes. He hasn't had a 50-plus score in the last 12 innings, either. 

Iyer also looked unconvincing in the first two Tests, getting his eye in and then getting out. Among specialist batters, only skipper Rohit Sharma (18.3%) and wicketkeeper KS Bharat (23%) have a higher false shot percentage than Iyer in the series (16%). He averaged 26 in this series with 51.3 balls per dismissal, throwing away good starts in all four innings. Moreover, his average of 18.3 against spin in India since 2023 also played a part in his axing. 

With India not scheduled to play another Test series for a few months, this could be it for Iyer in whites for a while. 

Kohli remains unavailable

The rumours were right. Virat Kohli keeps himself unavailable for the Test series for undisclosed personal reasons. 

Will India miss him in these home Tests? If recent form is a metric, Kohli has averaged 34.4 in home Tests since 2021, which means a no. The average is boosted by his 186 (his only home Test hundred in this time period) in Ahmedabad last year, without which the number drops to 25. 

However, Kohli picked up form during the two Tests in South Africa. After a few lean years, the 35-year-old returned to his best in white-ball cricket last year. Similarly, he looked at his vintage self during his 172 runs in South Africa, the most for an Indian batter in the series. 

We don’t know which version of Kohli we would have seen in this series, but his absence takes out a hit at the star value in the series. It also means we have seen the last of the epic James Anderson vs Virat Kohli battle in Test cricket. 

Bumrah stays, Akash Deep comes in for Avesh Khan

The reports were wrong about Jasprit Bumrah. The Indian vice-captain was reported to be rested for the third Test. On the contrary, he is selected as Rohit Sharma’s deputy for the remaining Tests, hinting that he will take the field in Rajkot. 

A 10-day gap between the second and the third Test, the fact that the series is levelled and that he has been the difference between the two bowling sides would have tempted to India to play him for a third Test in a row. Depending on the result in Rajkot, Bumrah can be rested later in the series. 

In other changes, Mohammed Siraj is expected to return to the XI, replacing Mukesh Kumar if India field two seamers. The 27-year-old Bengal seamer Akash Deep has been selected at the back of his 11 wickets (at 18.7 runs apiece) against the England Lions. Avesh Khan has made way for him. 

Saurabh Kumar and Washington Sundar were drafted into the squad for the second Test. Washington has been retained, and Saurabh will return to domestic cricket. 

India squad for the final three Tests: Rohit Sharma ( c ), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul, Sarfaraz Khan, Rajat Patidar, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), Dhruv Jurel (wk), Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep

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