Rajat Patidar Steps Up to the Crease: India’s Surprise Call-up as Kohli Takes a Timeout

The Indian cricket team has summoned Madhya Pradesh batsman Rajat Patidar to fill the shoes of Virat Kohli, who has gracefully bowed out of the first two Tests against England for reasons close to his heart. Patidar, who was busy showcasing his skills in Ahmedabad against England Lions, is set to touch down in Hyderabad on the same day.

With Kohli’s absence, the Indian Test squad found itself in a bit of a pickle, lacking a backup specialist batter. The options were limited to KS Bharat and Dhruv Jurel, one of whom, confirmed by the head honcho Rahul Dravid, would be taking on the role of the specialist wicketkeeper.

Patidar, fresh from a stellar performance of 151 off 158 balls against an England Lions attack that boasted three international players, brings an impressive resume to the table. At 30, he flaunts stats that include 4000 runs in first-class cricket, averaging a robust 45.97, with a dozen centuries under his belt. Making his ODI debut against South Africa in December only adds to his cricketing cred.

When probed about opting for a more seasoned player, captain Rohit Sharma threw a curveball, emphasizing the importance of giving greenhorns their time in the spotlight. “We did actually think about it (picking an experienced player),” Rohit mused on the eve of the first Test in Hyderabad. “But all these younger players, when are they going to get their opportunity? That’s something we thought of as well.”

Choosing to go against the conventional wisdom of relying solely on experience, Rohit added a touch of humor to his explanation, saying, “Leaving out an experienced player, or not considering them, is very hard because of the amount of runs they have scored, the kind of experience they’ve had, the amount of games that they have won. It’s very hard to ignore all of that but sometimes you have got to bring certain players into your set-up as well, and you have got to give them favorable conditions. You don’t want to expose them or bring them on a foreign tour where they have not played before. That’s the thought (process) behind all of that. It’s important that we try and get some of these youngsters in whenever there is an opportunity.”

The first match of the much-anticipated five-game series between India and England kicks off in Hyderabad on January 25.

Meanwhile, in a subplot to the unfolding drama, Karnataka batter Devdutt Padikkal has been thrown into the mix for India A, taking over the reins from the sidelined B Sai Sudharsan, who’s grappling with back spasms. Adding another twist, Rinku Singh makes an early entry into the India A squad for the second four-day match against England Lions in Ahmedabad from January 24, after being initially reserved for the grand finale of the series.

The Indian squad for the first two Tests against England boasts a formidable lineup, with the likes of Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, KS Bharat (wk), Dhruv Jurel (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Avesh Khan, and the newest recruit, Rajat Patidar. Let the cricketing theatrics commence!

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