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Team India Search for Bumrah’s Replacement in Ranchi

In a series where the second-most economical India bowler has gone at 3.91, he’s taken 17 wickets at 13.64 and given 2.87 runs per over. The major reason India leads the fourth Test in Ranchi 2-1 is Jasprit Bumrah, who has been the most influential player on either side.

He won’t play in this game, leaving India with a tough selection dilemma. Do they replace him with a fast bowler? Choose a spinner instead. The following questions will bother them before the contest.

Should India Opt for an Extra Spinner?

England may return to their bowling balance of the first two Tests, with one fast bowler and four spinners, including Joe Root. India might replace Bumrah with Axar Patel, who played the first two Tests but missed the third.

The appeal is twofold. On an early-turning pitch, Axar’s quick, stump-to-stump left-arm spin might stretch India’s batting.

However, four spinners may be too many even on a turning course. Fast bowlers work best in short bursts and need constant rest and rotation, so playing four on a seaming wicket makes sense. However, spinners excel over time. In India’s home series against Australia last year, Axar played all four Tests but bowled fewer overs than R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, becoming a batting allrounder who batted at No. 8 or 9.

Axar

The fact that the first three Tests of the series were played on sharp turners and spanned three days compounded this difficulty. India had less room to bowl their third spinner as Australia’s innings shortened.

Four spinners may be too many in Ranchi, especially if there’s a quick and early turn.

India’s Preference for Two Seamers

Follow the two-seamer formula to cover all bases. The reverse swing has been crucial to the series, and Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj have shown their penetrating ability with it. New-ball swing is possible, though the series hasn’t seen much of it yet. Ranchi is scheduled to have the coolest conditions of the first four Tests, with Sunday and Monday overcast and a small probability of rain. Maximum temperatures will be 25–26 degrees Celsius.

Who joins Siraj in his attack? India has two options: Visakhapatnam’s Mukesh Kumar, who has three Test caps, and Akash Deep, who has yet to play.

Mukesh is accurate and can deliver an upright seam and extract surface aid, like Shami, but he lacks velocity. Akash is faster and hits the pitch harder, as Rohit Sharma showed in the nets two days before the Test match. He struck early against Akash, shuffling across to off stump before release, while he alternated between triggering and standing still against Mukesh.

India’s Preference for Two Seamers

Mukesh was hit by England’s top order in Visakhapatnam, finishing with an economy rate of 5.83 in two innings, but all of India’s bowlers except Bumrah have gone for plenty during the series. Mukesh was released from India’s Rajkot squad to play for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy against Bihar. That Eden Gardens field was grassy, unlike the Ranchi pitch where India will play. He took ten wickets.

Akash was called up to India’s squad before the Rajkot Test based on his form for India A, where he claimed 11 wickets in two unofficial Tests at 16.95.

Both Mukesh and Akash bowled long spells in the nets on Wednesday, and tradition suggests Mukesh will replace Bumrah in the XI unless India needs Akash’s pace.

How will the pitch play?

The JSCA Stadium pitch was dry and cracked two days before the Test match. England hitter Ollie Pope called it “platey” and remarked that one-half of the pitch was significantly more fractured longitudinally than the other.

“Batting from the far end, the cracks are outside the right-hander’s off stump, and from here, the left-hander’s. Currently, it seems like it’s down the wicket, plated on one side and a nice wicket on the other.”

Ranchi has had deceiving Test pitches. The one for its debut Test, during the 2016-17 India-Australia series, looked dark, nearly blackish, on the eve of the game due to watering the black soil. Australia saved a high-scoring Test on the penultimate day on the series’ slowest and flattest ground.

JSCA Stadium pitch

In South Africa’s 2019-20 tour, India scored lots of first-innings runs in the other Test here. Fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav took 10 wickets to bowl South Africa out for 162 and 133 after they batted first.

However, the pitch for this India-England encounter suggests spinners may play more and earlier than in the previous two Tests. India may have requested this as the first three Tests were played on flat fields while Bumrah rested.

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4 Comments

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