Newcomer Saurabh Kumar, 30, enters Indian Test squad as uncapped spinner to face England

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No certainty if Uttar Pradesh spinner will debut in Visakhapatnam ahead of Kuldeep Yadav or Washington Sundar.

Team India is in difficult times in the ongoing Test series against England. After winning the first Test in Hyderabad, England wants to maintain momentum in the second Test in Visakhapatnam on February 2. Ben Stokes’ team feels confident, especially with India dealing with injuries to important players.

This situation is unusual for India in a home Test series. Rohit Sharma’s team is up against a big challenge as England has hit them hard. Going into the second match, India has a tough job, especially missing two key players, and there are still four more matches in the series.

Saurabh Kumar, the 30-year-old uncapped spinner from Uttar Pradesh, who has earned a surprise call-up to the Indian Test squad for the upcoming match against England, commencing on February 2. The reshuffling was necessitated by injuries to KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, leading to the inclusion of Washington Sundar, along with the uncapped talents Sarfaraz Khan and Saurabh Kumar.

While Sarfaraz Khan is a familiar name, having gained prominence since the 2014 U-19 World Cup and being retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2018, it is the inclusion of Saurabh Kumar that has piqued interest. Notably, Saurabh had previously been part of the Indian Test squad for the home series against Sri Lanka and the away series against Bangladesh in 2022.

Saurabh Kumar, a left-arm spinner with a reliable batting hand, boasts an illustrious domestic career. Having played 68 first-class matches, he has accumulated an impressive tally of 290 wickets at an average of 24.41. His batting prowess is evident with a total of 2061 runs at an average of 27.11. A regular member of India ‘A,’ Saurabh recently played a pivotal role in their triumph over England Lions, contributing with a five-wicket haul at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

His standout performance came in December 2022 when he delivered a remarkable spell of 6-74 against Bangladesh ‘A’ for India ‘A’ in Sylhet. Saurabh made his first-class debut for Services in the 2014/15 season and later moved to Uttar Pradesh in 2015/16, remaining loyal to his native team.

In the auction market, Saurabh was acquired by Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017 for Rs. 10 lakhs. Subsequently, he found a spot in the Punjab Kings squad in 2021 for Rs. 20 lakhs. Despite these IPL stints, he is yet to make his debut in the tournament. Known for his consistent performances over the last three years, Saurabh Kumar is now poised for a significant opportunity in the challenging Test arena against England.

India’s Updated Test Squad for 2nd Test: Rohit Sharma (C), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer, KS Bharat (WK), Dhruv Jurel (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Avesh Khan, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, Sourabh Kumar.