Devdutt Padikal called after KL Rahul was ruled out of the Third test against England

India’s preparations for the Rajkot Test against England have been disrupted with the news that KL Rahul will be unavailable due to a sore knee. Devdutt Padikkal, Rahul’s teammate from Karnataka, has been called up as his replacement.

Rahul had previously sat out the second Test in Visakhapatnam due to a quadricep injury and was included in the squad for the remaining three Tests contingent upon his fitness. According to a BCCI release on Monday evening, Rahul has achieved 90 percent match fitness. He will undergo further recovery at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru to attain full match fitness for the fourth and fifth Tests.

With Virat Kohli absent due to personal reasons, India’s batting lineup faces additional challenges in Rahul’s absence. Furthermore, not including Shreyas Iyer for the remaining three Tests further complicates the team’s batting options.

Aside from Rahul’s absence, there’s uncertainty surrounding Ravindra Jadeja’s recovery from a hamstring injury sustained during the first Test in Hyderabad. While Jadeja is included in the squad for the third Test, scheduled on his home ground, his availability hinges on receiving fitness clearance.

In the meantime, Devdutt Padikkal, set to make his maiden Test appearance, is expected to join the squad on Tuesday from Chennai. He comes off an impressive performance against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy, scoring 151 and 36 in the fifth-round fixture that concluded on Monday.

Padikkal, a 23-year-old left-handed batsman, has amassed 556 runs in six innings this Ranji season at an average of 92.66. He boasts three centuries, including a high score of 193 in the season opener against Punjab. Before his recent Ranji outing, Padikkal showcased his talent with scores of 65, 21, and 105 for India A against England Lions in Ahmedabad. His century in the second unofficial Test was instrumental in a dominant first-innings batting display that set up an innings victory.

Moreover, Padikkal was part of the India A shadow tour to South Africa in December, providing him with valuable training alongside India’s Test regulars ahead of an intra-squad fixture.

Overall, Padikkal has solid first-class credentials, having averaged 44.54 across 31 matches. He has played two T20Is for India, both of which came against Sri Lanka in July 2021.

In Visakhapatnam, India handed a Test debut to Rajat Patidar. Sarfaraz Khan is the other uncapped batter in the mix along with Padikkal. Jadeja’s potential unavailability could well pave the way for another Test debutant in Rajkot. It’s also likely India could still pick one of Sarfaraz and Padikkal even if Jadeja is available and they play their usual three spinners and two quicks.

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