Ishant Sharma’s career has been full of ups and downs and injuries. Two years back, no one would have expected him to earn a permanent place in the Indian side, primarily due to his ability to contain runs but not many wickets to show. However, he made a comeback, improved tremendously over his line and lengths to become a wicket-taking option.
He has significantly improved his numbers outside India. The 31-year-old has scalped 50 wickets in a total of 12 Tests across South Africa, England, Australia, and West Indies. Sadly, these performances haven’t been replicated when it comes to home Tests since there isn’t much on offer for him on Indian decks. He has only a solitary 5-wicket haul at home as compared to 8 away from home.
In order to maintain his fitness for away Tests, the selectors might like to rest him for the home games and give more opportunities to the youngsters. Let us take a look at a few such players, who can replace Ishant in the upcoming home Tests.
1. Navdeep Saini
From nowhere to the top, Saini’s journey has been one of its kind. The tall pacer was picked up by RCB for IPL 2019, and given a chance in the playing XI. And he grabbed this opportunity with both his hands, finishing with 11 wickets in a tournament, where no other bowling option worked for Virat Kohli’s team.
As a result, the 26-year-old got attention from the selectors, who picked him as a backup pacer for the World Cup. Soon after, he made his T20I debut and impressed everyone by scalping 3 wickets against the Windies. No expert can ignore his ability to clock the ball at the excess of 140+.
Moreover, he can also use his variations to great effect, which can make him a good option on Indian pitches, which don’t usually offer much to pacers. There has been a hype over his inclusion in the Test team. One shouldn’t be surprised if he soon makes the cut.
2. Siddharth Kaul
Siddharth Kaul shot into fame with his outing in the Under-19 World Cup 2008, where he finished as the joint highest wicket-taker with 10 wickets in 5 games. However, it was only in 2017, when he grabbed the spotlight at the senior stage. Unearthed by the SRH, he finished with 16 wickets in that season.
Since then, the 29-year-old has been an integral member of the Sunrisers’ setup. His ability to bowl in any condition makes him a special player. Besides, he has plenty of variations up his sleeve, which is beneficial in any format.
Kaul has a tally of 205 wickets in 101 first-class innings, which proves his ability to perform in Tests. He has played 6 international games for India (3 ODIs and 3T20Is), but only in patches. He deserves a more consistent run with the national team, and India would like to test in the upcoming home Tests.
3. Sandeep Warrier
Sandeep Warrier is no new face to the first-class cricket. He has been there for the past 7 years, performing consistently for his team Kerela. The 28-year-old possesses 169 first-class wickets in 94 innings, which speaks volumes about his talent.
Sandeep is a quick bowler, who can deceive the batsman with swinging deliveries, that can move either of the ways. He was picked up by RCB in 2013, but only to warm the bench for three consecutive seasons. Sadly, he has only played three IPL games, so far, which is highly unjustified for such a talent.
Like many other players, Sandeep also has been forced to grind through the domestic circuit. However, this is the best chance for the selectors to give him an opportunity, since he is in red-hot form right now. With nine wickets in the last four Vijay Hazare Trophy games, Warrier is smashing the doors of selection.
4. Shardul Thakur
Shardul features as one of the most famed bowlers in the domestic circuit, for whom the only barrier has been the injuries. With 205 wickets in 105 first-class innings, he has been a valuable member of the Mumbai team alongside Dhawal Kulkarni.
One might often underestimate him due to his poor numbers in the IPL, but the 27-year-old is a different sort of bowler in the Tests. Though Shardul is primarily a hit-the-deck bowler, he can also use the outswinger against the right-handers pretty nicely.
Not to forget, he is also a pretty good batsman, which adds depth to the batting order. He made his Test debut against West Indies last year, from which he had to pull out owing to an injury. He hasn’t played in the international Tests since then, but might not be very far from a call-up.
5. Mohammed Siraj
Like Shardul, Mohammed Siraj too doesn’t have a good IPL record to brag about, but he is a different sort of bowler when it comes to Tests. Playing for Hyderabad, he has scalped 129 first-class wickets in just 52 innings, and that too at an impressive average of 21.33.
‘The Hyderabad Express’ was breathing fire in the 2016-17 Ranji season and finished with 41 wickets in 10 games. Though he is a hit-the-deck bowler with a fantastic bouncer, the 25-year-old can swing the bowl as well. He has been a regular in the India-A side.
The 25-year-old has already scalped 12 wickets in 7 Vijay Hazare Trophy games this season, which speaks volumes about his current form. Thus, he should be picked up in the Indian team.
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