Former Indian Test opener Aakash Chopra has opined that Delhi pacer Navdeep Saini will be the best option to play as the third pacer for India in the third Test at SCG. He feels that Natarajan hasn't played much red-ball cricket and India shouldn't get greedy to play him in Umesh's absence.
The ongoing Border-Gavaskar trophy has been a series for India where they have faced one setback after another. India had already entered the four-match series in absence of Ishant Sharma, with Rohit Sharma also missing the first two Tests. After that, they got bowled out for 36, losing the Adelaide Test in a forgettable manner. To add to that, Virat Kohli left back for home as he was on paternity leave while Mohamed Shami got ruled out of the series with injury. In the second Test, India put everything behind them to emerge victorious, though another pacer, Umesh Yadav, the first choice back-up fast bowler, was also ruled out of the final two Tests due to a calf muscle injury.
Now, who comes into Yadav's place is one of the most talked about questions. Former Indian Test opener and famous cricket pundit Aakash Chopra acknowledged that India had to endure a lot on the tour on account of injuries and setbacks, but then picked Navdeep Saini, who, so far, has had a tour to forget, to play the third Test at SCG against Australia ahead of Natarajan and Shardul.
"It's quite hard on India how things have been happening in Australia. Whenever things start going their way something bad happens. How much a team can endure like this? India have three main pacers- Bumrah, Shami, Ishant and all of them brought different things to plate. But firstly, Ishant got injured but still India had Shami and Bumrah. But then even Shami got injured too. To add insult to injury, India have now even lost Umesh Yadav, the back-up bowler," Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
"There are three main contenders to replace Umesh Yadav - T Natarajan, Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini. Natarajan has not played much first-class cricket. He has been doing well in white-ball cricket which has given birth to the greed of playing him in Tests as well but too much greed is never a good thing. Saini and Shardul are better options than Natarajan. Talking about Saini, I am little biased for him. He has played double the FC games than Natarajan. But, given the experience he has gained in last year or so at the top-level, he can be a good option."
Chopra concluded by saying that Saini can be the best option to play as third seamer. Regardless of who plays, though, Chopra feels that the replacement for Umesh should do a good hold up job.
"Shardul has played most FC games, he's a hit the deck hard bowler and can be an option. But, I feel Saini is the best option to play the SCG Test. I really hope whoever plays does a good holding job."