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Rohit Sharma “won’t reveal anything” regarding squad combination

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Last updated on 08 Feb 2023 | 12:17 PM
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Rohit Sharma “won’t reveal anything” regarding squad combination

The Indian skipper wouldn’t want to give anything away immediately while adding that India would approach the “horses for courses” policy for the first Test

There has been a lot of discourse over the kind of pitch that Nagpur would dish out but India’s squad combination concerns have put even more addendum to the strategy. Suryakumar Yadav or Shubman Gill? Would India go with three spinners or will it be the other way around? There have been many discussions regarding the same, and it was only natural that when Rohit Sharma headed into the press conference room for the pre-match press conference in Nagpur, those questions were fired right away.

But the Indian skipper wouldn’t want to give anything away immediately while adding that India would approach the “horses for courses” policy and decide accordingly while naming the playing XI tomorrow.

"What we have to do is we have to go to each venue, see the conditions, and try and get the best XI," Rohit said in the pre-match press conference. "It's as simple as that, and that is what we have done in the past and that is what we will do moving forward.

"The message to the boys has been very clear. We are ready to play horses for courses. On whichever pitch, whoever we need, we have to bring them in. As simple as that. That is something that we have spoken to the guys [about] at the start of this series, and we will continue to do that. We have to assess what sort of conditions we are playing in, who are the right guys to counter that conditions, and things like that. We are quite open to all of those options."

With Shreyas Iyer out with an injury, India have the decision to make whether to go ahead with Suryakumar Yadav or hand another middle-order opportunity to Shubman Gill

There remains the temptation of playing Suryakumar Yadav. A late bloomer, Surya has tasted immense success but all of his international experience has come in white-ball cricket. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he is a one-trick pony. Surya has over 5000 first-class runs, brought up with 14 hundreds in as many as 79 games. Since 2019, Surya has played only eight first-class games but averages 59.5 at a strike-rate of 91.

Either way, it would be an experiment of sorts but Rohit stated that the team would have everything in mind before naming the XI.

"Gill and Surya, they bring different things to the table for us," Rohit said. "Gill we all know has been in supreme form in the last three-four months. A lot of hundreds, big hundreds as well. On the other hand, Surya as well, in T20 cricket he's shown what he's capable of, and what sort of game he can bring to Test cricket as well. So both are quality options for us.

"We have not decided yet what we have to do with those two guys, but yeah, we will keep in mind all aspects of the game and see what it is. I just still have to have a final look at the pitch and maybe once I have a look at it, probably I'll have [an answer]. [I won't reveal it until] 9 o'clock tomorrow [at the toss]. I'm not going to give you anything today, 9 o'clock tomorrow is the right time."

Another head-scratcher for India is the selection of the third spinner. Considering they will play three spinners at most, the management will have to take the harsh call of deciding between Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and Kuldeep Yadav. 

“All four spinners are quality. Jadeja and Ashwin have played a lot together and have performed consistently. Speaking about Axar and Kuldeep, whenever they have got an opportunity, they have done well, they've put the batters under pressure. The last series that we played against England in India, Axar picked wickets (36), that's a lot of wickets man. And Kuldeep as well, he played only one Test match in Bangladesh and got five wickets there as well. All four of them available to us is a great sign and gives us that comfort as well," said Rohit.

"Three of them are quality all-rounders, not to forget that. And Kuldeep can bat as well - if you saw the Test match in Bangladesh, he got 40-odd crucial runs for us. So when you have players like those who can do multiple things on the ground, (it) gives us great options, gives us depth as well. So I feel having all four of them available to us is a positive sign," he added.

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