Uncapped pacer Akash Deep impresses at nets

21 February,2024 07:14 AM IST |  Ranchi  |  Sandipan Banerjee

The star fast bowler, having shouldered the heavy load in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Rajkot, has been granted a break by the BCCI

India pacer Akash Deep during a training session at Ranchi yesterday. Pic/PTI

As the cricketing spotlight shifts to the JSCA Stadium here for the fourth India v England Test, starting from Friday (February 23), fans are gripped by a prevailing sense of uncertainty: Who will fill the void left by Jasprit Bumrah?

The star fast bowler, having shouldered the heavy load in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Rajkot, has been granted a break by the BCCI. In his absence, his new ball partner Mohammed Siraj will spearhead the pace attack and one among Mukesh Kumar or Akash Deep is expected to accompany him on a black-soil pitch which, according to England vice-captain Ollie Pope, is tailor-made for spinners.

Mukesh takes 10 v Bihar

At the start of the series, Mukesh, 30, was India's first-choice third seamer. However, his subdued performance at Visakhapatnam (0-44 off seven overs and 1-26 off five) has injected an element of suspense into the selection process. Mukesh was released from the Indian squad at Rajkot to play in Bengal's last Ranji game against Bihar and the pacer finished with a 10-wicket haul.

On the other hand, Mukesh's Bengal teammate Akash Deep has earned his maiden Test call-up following his impressive show against the England Lions, against whom he took 10 wickets in two red-ball matches at Ahmedabad. On Wednesday, at the India nets here, Akash Deep, 27, bowled with some steam and seemingly impressed head coach Rahul Dravid and bowling coach Paras Mhambrey.

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Armed with a new ball at the start of the net session, Akash Deep hit the bats of Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill hard. His extra pace earned him some lift off the practice decks while Mukesh was a bit patchy with his line and length, particularly at the beginning. The latter half of the session saw the duo return for their second spell, this time with the older ball. Again, Akash Deep emerged more effective with his accuracy, speed and control over the reverse swing.

More practice today

On the eve of the match, India have scheduled one more practice session. However, the pacers, who are in line for selection, are unlikely to attend it. Thus, the original question about who will partner Siraj remains unanswered with Wednesday's intense practice session only intensifying the intrigue.

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team india england test cricket jasprit bumrah rohit sharma Yashasvi Jaiswal Shubman Gill sports news cricket news
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