England vs India: Rahul to keep wicket in warm-up game
KL Rahul is set to keep wicket for India in their three-day warm-up match against a Select County XI, starting July 20 at Chester-le-Street. India's regular wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant is yet to join the squad in Durham after testing positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Wriddhiman Saha is undergoing his mandatory quarantine in London. The five-Test series between England and India will begin on August 4.
A look at the latest developments
BCCI secretary Jay Shah recently confirmed that Pant tested COVID-19 positive upon moving out of the team's bio-secure bubble. Throw-down specialist as well as a masseur, Dayanand Garani, had also contracted the virus. Notably, the BCCI medical team placed him in isolation along with bowling coach Bharat Arun, wicket-keeper Saha, and reserve opening batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran, all identified as Garani's close contacts.
Pant needs to clear two COVID-19 tests
On July 15, Shah had revealed that Pant was asymptomatic but will complete his 10-day quarantine period soon. Pant was expected to finish his quarantine by July 18. He will be declared fit to join the Indian squad after clearing two COVID-19 tests.
An opportunity for Rahul
The absence of both Pant and Saha gives Rahul an opportunity to impress the selectors. Moreover, young opener Shubman Gill remains unavailable after he was ruled out of the series due to a leg injury. One of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal will partner Rohit Sharma at the top against England. At the moment, Mayank has an edge over Rahul for the role.
Mayank or Rahul?
Mayank made his Test debut in the 2018/19 Boxing Day match. Ever since, he has amassed 1,052 runs from 14 Tests at an impressive average of 45.74. Mayank had stamped his authority as an opener until Gill replaced him. On the other hand, Rahul last played a Test match in 2019 (vs WI). He has played just one First-class match ever since.
The match to begin on July 20
The Indian Test players, who last featured in the WTC final, will now play the match, starting July 20. On July 16, the ECB announced the 14-member Select County XI squad, which will be led by Will Rhodes. The three-day match will be played behind closed doors. Meanwhile, the first of the five-match Test series will commence on August 4 at Trent Bridge.