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T Natarajan and Shardul Thakur added to India’s Test squad; Rohit Sharma appointed as Vice-Captain

T Natarajan has been added into India’s 18-man squad for the remaining two Tests against Australia in the ongoing 4-match Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The left-arm pacer has come as a replacement to Umesh Yadav, who sustained a calf injury during the second innings of the MCG Test.

Umesh bowled just a few overs and was immediately sent for scans post which it was known that the 33-year-old Nagpur-born won’t be a part of the Test series with immediate effect.

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Natarajan, who impressed on his international debut in the concluded limited-overs contests against Australia and was held back as a net bowler, would now be among the probable players for the SCG Test that will commence on January 7.

The 26-year-old grabbed two wickets on his ODI debut and followed with rip-roaring exhibitions in the 3-match T20Is wherein he emerged as the highest wicket-taker with 6 scalpings at an astounding average of 13.83, with best figures of 3/30.

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Known to bowl yorker-deliveries at will, the Tamil Nadu cricketer came into the limelight in the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as he picked 16 wickets in as many appearances at an economy of 8.02. He has a decent record in First-Class cricket, scalping 64 wickets in 20 matches at an average of 27.03 with his best figures in an innings being 5/41.

Mumbai speedster Shardul Thakur too has been roped in for the remaining two Tests. The right-armer has made 62 First-Class appearances, and so far, he has grabbed 206 wickets averaging 28.55. With the willow, he has aggregated over 1200 runs and holds 6 half-centuries to his name.

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Earlier, Mohammed Shami was ruled out of the series owing to the fracture sustained in the first Test in Adelaide. Along with Umesh, the duo would now be heading back to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru for complete rehabilitation from their injuries.

Rohit Sharma joins the Indian Test squad

Meanwhile, there’s a big boost to India’s batting department with swashbuckling opener Rohit Sharma finishing his 14-day quarantine and joining the Indian squad for the last two Tests. He has been appointed as the vice-captain in the Tests underway. However, it is unclear at what position would the Mumbaikar be batting in the SCG Test.

Also Read – At NCA, everybody’s focus was to get Rohit Sharma ready: Pragyan Ojha

Post the forgettable performance at Adelaide Oval in the day-night Test, and without the services of two of India’s key players in Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami, the Ajinkya Rahane-led side made a memorable comeback in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne to thwart an Australian triumph and level the series 1-1. Both debutants, Shubman Gill (45 and 35*) and Mohammed Siraj (2/40 and 3/37) garnered applauding numbers in the high-pressure feud.

Team India’s Test squad for the third and fourth Tests:

Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Navdeep Saini, Jasprit Bumrah, T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Sira, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.

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V Shashank
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar


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