CHENNAI: India are keeping their fingers crossed over the availability of opener Shubman Gill for the upcoming five-match Test series against England, which begins in Nottingham on August 2. Gill is understood to be suffering from a stress injury on his left shin and is being monitored by the team physios in England and a decision on his availability is expected to be taken only after further tests.
Although there is no certainty that he would recover in time, the team management has also not given up hope as there is enough time for the Test series. It is understood that there is a fair chance of Gill being available for the latter part of the series and having been crucial to their plans in England, the team management is not rushing with any decision to send him back.
Injured players are supposed to report at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru to undergo the rehabilitation programme. However, the support system of the NCA is currently in Sri Lanka with India's white-ball team. Add the travel complications because of the pandemic, Gill staying put in England seems to be the ideal one in the current scenario.
However, there are questions to be addressed. In case, Gill is ruled out of the series, it will leave India with limited options. While Mayank Agarwal can take his place in the XI and there is KL Rahul in the squad, it is understood that the latter is being looked at as one of the options for the middle-order. That leaves India to bank on the reserve players, which includes Bengal's Abhimanyu Easwaran. The 25-year-old has 13 first-class centuries to his name, but in the last Ranji Trophy season where he led Bengal to the final, he had a forgetful outing with the bat. Moreover, he doesn't have much A games to his name, and there are questions if he would be ready for the big step.
Indian players have been given a three-week break and will assemble in Durham on July 15, where they are scheduled to play a couple of practice matches. While the BCCI had requested England and Wales Cricket Board to schedule a practice match involving one of the county sides, that is unlikely to happen because of the English domestic season. This means, India will play an intra-squad practice match, which will given the opportunity to test the reserve players.