Kuldeep Yadav or Axar Patel? India knows who they want in their XI for the first Test against England starting on Thursday. Both players offer compelling reasons to pick them. Kuldeep has “X-factor”, according to India captain Rohit Sharma. He has only played eight Tests since his 2017 debut, but has worked on his bowling and showcased the ability India values in their bowlers. “Kuldeep gives you a certain X-factor with his bowling,” Rohit said. “He has got superb variations.”
Kuldeep played a Ranji Trophy match in the lead-up to this series and performed well, while Axar did not go all that well in India’s last home series against Australia. “Axar with his all-round ability, giving us that batting depth, the consistency that he has shown playing in these conditions in Test cricket also is an important factor for us,” Rohit said.
Axar’s prized weapon is the ball that doesn’t turn, which he seemed to have lost a bit against Australia. However, he is now recovering from an injury and looks like he’s getting back to his old self.
The Hyderabad pitch will turn, and India’s decision will depend on whether they want more of a batting ability or the prospect of Kuldeep’s spin against an opposition that attacks. Success in shorter formats has taught him how to cope with batters coming at him, and he has worked on his test game, improving control and getting quicker without losing his other assets like turn and bounce.
With India missing Virat Kohli, they will likely want to shore up the XI with as many all-round options as possible.