BCCI picks Rajat Patidar as Virat Kohli’s replacement: Pips Pujara, Sarfaraz, Rinku for first two Tests against England

Rajat Patidar pips Pujara, Sarfaraz, Rinku for first two Tests against England
Rajat Patidar pips Pujara, Sarfaraz, Rinku for first two Tests against England

The BCCI selection committee, led by Ajit Agarkar, put an end to speculation about Virat Kohli’s replacement for the first two Tests against England by confirming Rajat Patidar as the chosen player. Kohli will be absent from the matches in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam due to personal reasons.

The BCCI, in an official statement, requested privacy for Kohli and indicated that a replacement would be named soon. The contenders for the spot included Cheteshwar Pujara, Sarfaraz Khan, Rinku Singh, and Patidar. However, it was confirmed on Tuesday night that Patidar had secured the position.

Patidar, a right-handed batter from Madhya Pradesh, was present at the BCCI annual awards in Hyderabad with the Indian team members. While he is unlikely to debut in the upcoming Test with Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul set to bat in the middle order, the selectors opted for Patidar due to the absence of another specialist batter in the reserves.

The selection committee and team management unanimously chose Patidar, signaling a departure from the Pujara-Rahane route. This decision also means that Sarfaraz, the prolific red-ball batter in the Indian domestic circuit, will have to wait for his maiden call-up.

Patidar’s recent form, including two centuries in three innings for India A against England Lions, played a crucial role in his selection. His impressive 151-run knock in the last four-day game solidified his position. Patidar, 30, had been in contention for a while, and despite an Achilles heel injury that kept him out of the game for eight months, he made his India debut in the third ODI against South Africa.

Known for his middle-order batting, temperament, and ability to score quickly against pace and spin, Patidar boasts a decent record in domestic cricket.

Initially part of India A’s squad for matches against England Lions, Patidar’s inclusion in the Test team came after Kohli’s unavailability, prompting the selection committee to name Rinku Singh in the India A squad for the second match.