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India vs England: How India's debutants fared

By CHITRANGADA DATTA CHAUDHURI
March 11, 2024 17:06 IST
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IMAGE: India fielded five debutants during the recently-concluded home series against England. Photograph: BCCI

India’s emphatic win over England was a tailor-made series for the debutants. The absence of key players gave India the perfect opportunity to test their bench strength and boy, did the youngsters grab the chance with both hands!

In the five-match series, India handed the coveted Test debut cap to five players.

 

In a series which India began on a losing note, the hosts -- powered by the youth brigade -- bounced back to pick up four wins on the trot to bag the five-match series 4-1.

The five debutants -- Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel, Devdutt Padikkal, Akash Deep and Rajat Patidar -- donned the Test whites for the first time. Barring Patidar, the youngsters put up memorable performances to power India to one of their finest Test victories.

Let’s take a look at how the debutants performed.

Sarfaraz Khan

The Mumbai batter’s India debut was long-awaited. Not only did he have to wait for a long time to don the India whites, it was a highly-discussed debut as well -- with selectors being criticised on several occasions for not picking the domestic stalwart.

But shutting out all the outside noise, Sarfaraz made a memorable debut, making a strong case for himself. Handed his debut cap in Rajkot, Sarfaraz struck two quick half-centuries in his first match.

The 26-year-hold displayed nerves of steel in pressure situations to put India in the driver’s seat. On his debut outing, the Mumbai batter hammered a 66-ball 62, and looked well set for a big score. But a miscommunication with Ravindra Jadeja in the middle saw Sarfaraz’s promising knock end with a run out.

In his debut knock he smacked the England bowlers for nine boundaries and a maximum. In the second innings, Sarfaraz continued in the same vein, smacking an unbeaten 68 off 72.

Sarfaraz stitched a match-winning 172-run stand with Mumbai teammate Yashasvi Jaiswal to set the hosts up for a win.

In the Ranchi Test, Sarfaraz struggled to get runs under his belt as he fell for 14 in the first innings and a duck in the second innings.

But he bounced right back in the next Test, hammering a quickfire half-century. In an innings studded with eight boundaries and a maximum, Sarfaraz struck a 60-ball 50, to end his debut series with three half-centuries.

Sarfaraz’s debut confirmed all the hype around him and also indicated that the Mumbai batter will be one of the regulars for the Indian team in future.

Dhruv Jurel

Another impressive debutant for the Indian team was young wicketkeeper-batter Dhruv Jurel. With Srikar Bharat failing to consolidate his position as the keeper-batter, the young Jurel was handed his debut cap and he made a strong case for himself.

The Uttar Pradesh keeper-batter received his debut cap in the third Test in Rajkot. While he narrowly missed out on his half-century on debut, falling for 46 in the only innings he batted in Rajkot. Jurel turned saviour for India in the next Test.

In the fourth Test in Ranchi, Jurel played a match-winning knock. After England posted 353 in the first innings, the hosts were reeling at 177-7. But the young keeper-batter anchored India’s innings and delivered under pressure.

Jurel struck a 149-ball 90 to reduce England’s lead. One again, in the second innings, India found themselves in a spot of bother and it was Jurel who came to India’s rescue along with Shubman Gill.

Chasing 192, India were reeling at 120/5 at one stage. Gill (52 not out) and Jurel (39 not out) put up an unbeaten 72-run stand for the sixth wicket to guide India to a series-clinching victory.

But Jurel didn’t impress only with the willow. He enjoyed his debut series with both bat and gloves. The 23-year-old was stellar behind the stumps as well, effecting two stumpings and taking five catches.

Not only did he keep well for both pacers and spinners, Jurel showed his cricketing intelligence as well, as he predicted Ollie Pope’s charge down the wicket, which cost the batsman dearly in Dharamsala.

With 190 runs and five catches and two stumpings, Jurel seems to be the answer India’s been searching for since a certain M S Dhoni hung up his gloves.

Devdutt Padikkal

In the absence of key players, Karnataka batter Devdutt Padikkal was handed his debut cap in the fifth Test in Dharamsala, making it to the playing XI in place of the struggling Rajat Patidar.

It was a dead rubber, but Padikkal showed his prowess as he played a strokeful 65 off 103 on debut.

Scoring a half-century in his maiden match, the 23-year-old’s inning was studded with 10 boundaries and a maximum.

With India losing both centurions -- Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill -- in quick succession, Padikkal and Sarfaraz both struck quickfire centuries to take the match away from the visitors. The pair added 97 for the fourth wicket to put India in control.

Akash Deep

India boast of a lethal pace attack, and to come in place of one of the best bowlers is a baggage in itself. But with Jasprit Bumrah rested for the Ranchi Test, the Bengal pacer was handed an opportunity.

With the competition tight for a spot in the contest, the right-arm pacer did not let the opportunity slip as he made an instant impact. With England opting to bat first in Ranchi, the pacer put up a stellar show to pick up the first three wickets to reduce the hosts to 57/3 in 12 overs.

Though he may have gotten off to a nervy start, getting the first scalp off a no-ball, Deep bounced back in style to pick up three crucial wickets.

It was a memorable debut for the Bengal pacer who accounted for England’s top three on his debut.

Rajat Patidar

The only debutant who failed to impress was Rajat Patidar. Coming into the side in the absence of Virat Kohli, Patidar wilted under pressure.

The team management did give the Madhya Pradesh batter the long rope, including him in three consecutive Tests. But Patidar failed to fire, scoring just 63 runs from six innings. In his debut innings, Patidar struck 32, but failed to convert it into a big innings.

What undid Patidar was spin. All six of his dismissals came against spin.

While the other four debutants made a strong case and look set for a place in the Indian team in future, it’ll be interesting to see if Patidar gets another look any time soon.

The series win, one of India’s most sensational victories, can easily be attributed to the youngsters, who delivered when it mattered the most.

Photographs: BCCI
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