Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Prithvi Shaw: The senior fast bowler and rookie opening batsman haven’t received Test comebacks.
India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and opening batsman Prithvi Shaw were two names who were expected to make a comeback into the Test squad for the ICC World Test Championship final and a five-match Test series against England but it wasn’t to be for of them as the selectors announced a 20-member squad this evening without many surprising changes.
Bhuvneshwar, whose last Test appearance dates back to more than three years ago during the tour of South Africa, was being talked about primarily because of his capability to swing the ball in the English conditions.
In his only Test series in England (in 2014) till date, Bhuvneshwar had shared Man of the Series award with England’s James Anderson on the back of picking 19 wickets in five Test at an average and strike rate of 26.63 and 54.5 respectively. Having scored 247 runs inclusive of three half-centuries, Bhuvneshwar had outscored the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli back in the day.
Shaw, on the other hand, was expected to reap benefits of a sparkling domestic and IPL 2021 season where he scored four centuries and as many half-centuries in 16 white-ball innings for Mumbai and Delhi Capitals.
— Chennai Super Kings – Mask P😷du Whistle P🥳du! (@ChennaiIPL) May 7, 2021
Why are Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Prithvi Shaw not part of India’s Test squad?
In the absence of a press conference, the exact reasons behind selectors not naming Bhuvneshwar and Shaw in the squad remains unknown. Having said that, it was always going to be difficult for both these players especially when the current team has done exceedingly well in its last two series.
Talking about Bhuvneshwar, the 31-year old player would have always been behind the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav in the pecking order.
With Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur also impressing recently, dropping them would’ve set the wrong precedent. It remains unknown if Bhuvneshwar missing a couple of IPL 2021 matches due to an injury had affected the selectors’ decision or not.
Furthermore, the fact that Bhuvneshwar hasn’t played in the ancestral format since his last Test further makes his case all the more difficult. Similarly, Shaw hasn’t also played first-class cricket since the tour of Australia. Although such a practice is not followed on a regular basis, it is always advisable to select players on the basis of their form in the format they are being selected for.
As far as opening batsmen in the squad are concerned, the team management will pick one out of Shubman Gill or Mayank Agarwal to accompany Rohit Sharma at the top. Considering the likely case of KL Rahul attaining full fitness, he will be another option for India to face the new ball.
Among the four standby names, the selectors have also included Bengal opening batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran. Leading Bengal for the first time in the season of Ranji Trophy, Easwaran registered a dismal season with the bat (258 runs in 10 matches at 17.20) but is among the prolific run-scorers in the domestic circuit in the last few years.
Moreover, if a report in The Times of India is to be believed, Shaw has been advised to loose some weight for being in consideration for the national team. The further states that Shaw was given the example of wicket-keeper batsman and his Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant for he was also asked to work on his fitness.
“Prithvi [Shaw] is still very slow across the turf for a 21-year-old. He needs to shed a few more kilos. He also had concentration issues while fielding in Australia. Shaw has been working hard since he returned from Australia. He has the example of Rishabh Pant right in front of him. If Pant can turn things around in a few months, Prithvi too can do it,” a BCCI source told The Times of India.