India have been given a major boost going into the second and final Test against Sri Lanka after a commendable innings-and-222 runs win in the first Test at Mohali. As per multiple reports, Axar Patel will return to the squad after fully recovering from his injury, replacing Kuldeep Yadav.
India were superior in all three departments against Sri Lanka in the first Test at Mohali. They registered an emphatic innings and a 222-run win there to take an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Now, they will look to dominate Sri Lanka even more as the left-arm orthodox spinner Axar Patel is reportedly set to return in the mix.
As per multiple reports, including ESPNCricinfo and PTI, Axar has recovered from a shin injury as well as a recent bout of Covid-19. The Board of Control for Cricket in India ( BCCI) have released Kuldeep Yadav to bring in Axar.
"Axar was the first choice but had to undergo recovery and hence Kuldeep was a backup. Now Axar is fit and back so Kuldeep has been released,” a BCCI official told PTI.
During the announcement of the India squad for the first Test, it was mentioned that Axar’s fitness would be "assessed later to ascertain his selection for the second Test".
Axar is likely to slot directly into the playing XI in place of Jayant Yadav if India persist with a three-spinner attack again along with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Given Axar’s impressive record over his first five Tests, in which he has bagged 36 wickets at an average of 11.86, he is an obvious choice. In India's last day-night Test in Ahmedabad last year, Axar finished with match figures of 11/70 to be adjudged Player of the Match. With the Bengaluru Test being a day-night affair, Axar’s presence will bolster India’s chances to complete the clean sweep in Tests as well.
However, Axar has not played a competitive cricket match for almost three months now. He last featured for India in the two-match Test series against New Zealand.