Navdeep Saini in fray for Test debut in Australia

Written by Sumit Seth

With the Indian Premier League (IPL) crossing the half-way mark, talks have begun over India’s tour of Australia which will see the team leave right after the T20 league concludes. As far as the pace bowling unit is concerned, the injury absence of Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as well as the fact that Hardik Pandya isn’t fit to bowl at present, is likely to pave way for Navdeep Saini to earn his Test debut.

“His [Pandya’s] body can’t take the longer version at the moment, he is fine for the shorter versions though,” a source in the board told the Indian Express.

Hardik took a long time in making his return to professional cricket since undergoing back surgery last year. While he has been a mainstay for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020, Hardik is reportedly not fit enough to take the load of 5-day cricket as yet.

The BCCI is expected to pick the squad in one week’s time but the meeting of selectors has been delayed because of certain clearances. The board is looking to get some exceptions on the quarantine rules in order to get Indian team the permission to start their practice sessions within the 14-day quarantine mandate.

Hardik, however, is still expected to be selected and will be a part of the Indian team that takes on Australia in the T20Is and ODIs. He is, however, likely to be kept out of the Test squad because of workload precautions.

The Test-playing members of the Indian team who aren’t participating in the IPL are also expected to be called up to Dubai for a few training sessions before they are grouped with the rest of the players and flown Down Under.

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Sumit Seth