Former India cricketer Deep Dasgupta has opined why picking Navdeep Saini ahead of T Natarajan for the SCG Test is the right call by the Indian team management.
The former Bengal cricketer further added that though Natarajan made an impressive debut in the concluded white-ball series against Australia, he still hasn’t played a lot of red-ball cricket and his selection would be a huge risk considering it a must-win Test for the tourists.
Team India needs one more victory to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and if there’s an Indian conquest in the forthcoming Test at SCG, then the Ajinkya Rahane-led side would have a great chance to win the series by 3-1.
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Saini, who made his debut in the limited-overs against West Indies back in 2019, will be making his Test debut in the third match of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy currently tied at 1-1.
In 46 First Class appearances, the 26-year-old pacer has been successful in scalping 128 wickets at an average of 28.46, with 4 four-wicket hauls and as many five-wicket hauls, including the best figure in an innings of 6/32. Pace and bounce are Saini’s forte and with the ball reversing amidst the conditions in Sydney, the Karnal-born could prove as a major annoyance to the Aussies in the must-win feud.
Post the second Test at MCG, there were talks regarding the selection of either T Natarajan or Shardul Thakur, and with the former posting a picture of him in the Indian Test jersey led many to believe that he might get a chance ahead in the final XI, ahead of Navdeep Saini.
However, Team India, on Thursday, announced the playing XI for the third Test on their official social media handles thereby clearing the air regarding the selections.
“I can understand why (picking Natarajan over Saini), and it is a good question to ask. But I think it is a bit unfair on everyone else. It is a huge huge chance that you will take with him (Natarajan) because he has only played a handful of First-Class games,” said Deep Dasgupta on Sports Today’s YouTube channel.
I haven’t seen much of T Natarajan in red-ball cricket: Deep Dasgupta
So far, Natarajan has played just 20 First-Class matches, grabbing 64 wickets at an average of 27.84, with 3 five-fors and 3 four-fours, and 5/44 as best bowling figures in an innings.
Dasgupta highlighted that since Natarajan doesn’t possess much experience of the longer formats, it’s better not to put him straightway into the red-ball cricket.
“As far as red-ball cricket is concerned, I haven’t really seen much of him (Natarajan), in terms of playing time and also performance-wise,” said the former wicket-keeper.
In the limited-overs matches, Natarajan bamboozled the Aussie lineup with his accurate lines and lengths. He grabbed two wickets in the third and final ODI at SCG, and followed with astounding exhibitions in the 3-match T20I series, scraping 6 wickets at an average of 13.83.
Not to mention, the yorker specialist was the highest wicket-taker in the series garnering laurels from the entire cricket fraternity. However, Dasgupta reckons that it is better to be more cautious heading into the SCG Test which is of paramount importance for Team India.
The cricketer-turned-commentator added, “So yes, while he has done extremely well in white-ball cricket, but I am going to be a little more cautious with him and not put him straight into red-ball cricket. Mind you, this is a very important Test match, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy is ours.”
India’s playing XI for the third Test at SCG: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Navdeep Saini.