Former Indian cricketer, team director, and head coach, Ravi Shastri, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the team management’s decision to include right-arm seamer Mukesh Kumar in the playing XI for the second Test against England at Vishakhapatnam’s ACA-VDCA stadium. The Indian team suffered a 28-run defeat in the first Test and is looking to make strategic changes.
Shastri believes that all-rounder Washington Sundar, who was part of the 2nd Test squad, would have been a more suitable choice than Mukesh Kumar. According to Shastri, the Vizag pitch and conditions are conducive to spin, and he is concerned that India might pay the price for selecting a seamer over a spinner.
Washington Sundar was brought into the side as a replacement for senior all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who suffered a Grade 1 hamstring injury during the first Test. Shastri feels that having Washington in the playing XI would have extended India’s batting tail, especially in challenging conditions.
Expressing his concern, Shastri questioned the decision to pick Mukesh Kumar ahead of Washington Sundar. He raised doubts about the effectiveness of Mukesh Kumar, especially when India is batting first on the Vizag surface.
“My only concern is picking Mukesh Kumar over Washington Sundar. How much of use will Mukesh be, especially after India is batting first on this Vizag surface?” said Ravi Shastri.
In the ongoing Test, the pitch has provided decent bounce with a little swing, but there is substantial assistance for spinners. The first session saw an even contest between the two teams, with India reaching the 100-run mark. However, England managed to remove Indian skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill.
England’s debutant off-spinner, Shoaib Bashir, orchestrated Rohit Sharma’s dismissal with a well-executed plan, catching him in a leg slip. Shortly after, the seasoned James Anderson accounted for Shubman Gill, who made a poor shot selection, edging an outside-off delivery to wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.
While pacers have not had much success on the Vizag pitch, Ben Stokes utilized James Anderson effectively. Shoaib Bashir, Joe Root, and Tom Hartley handled the spin duties for England, leaving Rehan Ahmed yet to be introduced into the attack. The ongoing Test promises to be another challenge on a challenging pitch for both teams.