Rahul had earlier missed the second Test in Visakhapatnam due to a quadricep injury, and was included in the squad for the last thee Tests only subject to fitness. *A BCCI release on Monday evening said he “has reached 90 per cent of match fitness” and that “he will continue his recovery process at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru to be completely match-fit for the fourth and fifth Test.”
That aside, it isn’t confirmed yet whether Ravindra Jadeja has recovered from the hamstring injury he had suffered during the first Test in Hyderabad. Jadeja is in the squad to play the third Test, which will take place on his home ground, but his participation is pending fitness clearance.
He was also part of the shadow tour to South Africa with India A in December, where he had an opportunity to train alongside India’s Test regulars prior to an intra-squad fixture.
Having started off as an opener, Padikkal has slowly transitioned into a predominantly top-order role that requires him to bat at No. 3 – and at times even at No. 4 – for Karnataka. With Mayank Agarwal and R Samarth opening the innings for his state side, Padikkal has established himself lower down. This change of role is something he has learnt to embrace after a middling IPL 2023 for Rajasthan Royals. The tipping point, he said, was his trade to Lucknow Super Giants, where he’ll be playing under none other than Rahul.
“I don’t look at it in terms of just being an opener anymore,” he had said. “I’m enjoying my opportunities, wherever they may be. Each position you bat in offers a different challenge. I’m trying to learn new things, [and] adapt to situations. It helps me grow as a cricketer, [and] helps me understand the game a lot more – not just in terms of my batting but [also] how the game works across different phases.”
Overall, Padikkal has solid first-class credentials, having averaged 44.54 across 31 matches. He has played two T20Is for India, both of which came against Sri Lanka in July 2021.
In Visakhapatnam, India handed a Test debut to Rajat Patidar. Sarfaraz Khan is the other uncapped batter in the mix along with Padikkal. Jadeja’s potential unavailability could well pave way for another Test debutant in Rajkot. It’s also likely India could still pick one of Sarfaraz and Padikkal even if Jadeja is available and they play their usual three spinners and two quicks.
India have two full days of training leading into Rajkot, with the series locked at 1-1.
India’s squad for the third Test: Rohit Sharma (capt), Jasprit Bumrah (vice-capt), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel (wk), KS Bharat (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, Devdutt Padikkal.
GMT 1450 hrs This story was updated with information from a BCCI press release