Rajkot pitch to decide India’s Test debutant

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India have not yet decided on who will make their Test debut against England in Rajkot, with all-rounder Hardik Pandya and batsman Karun Nair in line for a cap.

Coach Anil Kumble is waiting to see how the deck looks closer to the time before deciding whether bowlin-strong Pandya or batsman Nair will get the nod.

Pandya was picked after good efforts with India A in Australia earlier this year, but has primarily been a white ball player, while Nair has one well in the Ranji Trophy.

Kumble said in reference to Pandya: “Whether it is a short glimpse in T20s, or even in the one-dayers when he bowled in Dharamsala and batted in Delhi, we could see that he is a quality player.

“That’s why we have backed him to get him into the Test squad because we understand the importance of an allrounder, the importance of a fifth bowler.

“If someone can bowl 140 and give you the option of batting really well lower down the order, that’s a great option to have. So we are really looking forward to seeing how Hardik develops.

“Karun is certainly someone we have kept a close eye on and backed him for all the things he has done in domestic cricket.

“There was a little bit of talk of him not performing for India A in Australia but what we are looking at is consistency and he has done all the hard work.

“That’s why he was a part of the [squad for the Tests against New Zealand] as well and since then he has gone into Ranji Trophy and got more runs, got hundreds, and it’s opened an opportunity for Karun.”

He added: “Everyone is available for selection. With Hardik being part of the squad, we have more options.

“This is the first Test in Rajkot, it’s a new stadium – we’ve played one-day and T20 cricket here, but in a Test, we don’t know how the wicket is going to be.

“The looks of it, it looks a good surface. We still have a couple of days, so we’ll look at all the combinations.

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