With Sydney Test just around the corner, spot for India’s third seamer is getting heated up with T Natarajan getting the promotion. Natarajan was a net bowler initially but was named as a replacement to Umesh Yadav. This development came after Shardul Thakur, who was also picked as a net bowler, was included in the Test squad as a replacement to Mohammad Shami.
This leaves Navdeep Saini in a precarious position who was originally picked in the Test squad when the team was picked a couple of months ago. Fans are now wondering who would Rahane play alongside Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Siraj. Well, former India seamer Ashish Nehra backed Saini to make the cut.
“If you look at squad composition, Saini was first choice and Shardul and Natarajan both came in as replacements for Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav,” Ashish Nehra. “So if Saini was ahead of them during initial Test squad selection, I don’t see any reason why he would slip down in the pecking order. You selected him first, so obviously, you believed he was better than the other two. Isn’t it?”
Nehra explained how Saini can trouble the Australia batsmen, whom he believes are vulnerable against short-pitched stuff, by using the pace and bounce that he can generate with his height. The former pacer pointed out that Natarajan is still inexperienced at the longest format Saini seems to be a better pick at this moment.
“Navdeep’s biggest assets are bounce and extra pace. This is a Test match. How does Natarajan normally get his wickets? When people are trying to hit him. Also, you haven’t tested Natarajan by playing him for India A like you did with Mohammed Siraj, who has risen through the ranks,” Nehra said. “Similarly, Navdeep has also come up the ranks having been on multiple red ball tours of India A. In Test matches, batsmen normally don’t get out. You have to get them out. That’s the difference. On the Sydney pitch, you will require a bit more pace and Navdeep has that. There shouldn’t be any debate as such. Sydney pitches what I saw during white-ball games, it was very flat.
“So when kookaburra seam will flatten out after some time, you will require that extra pace that Navdeep has and also he can get a bit of reverse swing. Also this Australian team is susceptible to short-pitched bowling, unlike Matthew Hayden or Ricky Ponting of yesteryears. Navdeep can be used better as he bowls a mean bouncer compared to a Natarajan or Shardul.”