Allrounder Ravindra Jadeja will not be available for the upcoming three-match ODI series in Bangladesh, as he is yet to fully recover from a knee surgery that he underwent in September.
Shahbaz Ahmed, the Bengal allrounder, has been named as Jadeja’s replacement in the ODI squad that begins on December 4 in Mirpur. There’s one other change, with Uttar Pradesh left-arm seamer Yash Dayal ruled out due to a lower back issue. He will be replaced by Madhya Pradesh fast bowler Kuldeep Sen.
Both Sen and Shahbaz were supposed to travel to New Zealand for the three-match ODI series beginning in Auckland on Friday. Now, they will miss that series and travel to Bangladesh instead.
Shahbaz has been in prolific form in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, picking up 11 wickets in six matches at an economy of 4.87 across 51.2 overs. He has also contributed two half-centuries lower down the order with the bat. Sen, meanwhile, is the highest wicket-taker in the competition until the group stages, having picked up 18 wickets in six games, with a best of 5 for 36 against Punjab.
Jadeja’s inclusion had been subject to fitness at the time of the squad announcement. If he isn’t ready to line up for the two-Test series that follows, it’s likely Uttar Pradesh left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar could be included in the tour party.
Saurabh has been on the fringes of the national team since February last year, following excellent returns since the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy. He was more recently part of the India A squad against New Zealand, where he picked up nine wickets in the series to help the hosts to a 1-0 win. Prior to that, he played a key part in UP’s run to the Ranji Trophy semi-final.
In all, across 12 Ranji Trophy games from two completed seasons, Saurabh has an impressive tally of 58 wickets. One of Saurabh’s USPs, according to a member of the outgoing selection committee, is his ability to wheel away tirelessly and bowl long spells.
Jadeja, 33, had to leave India’s Asia Cup campaign after the group stages to undergo surgery because of a long-standing knee injury. While India head coach Rahul Dravid initially hoped Jadeja might recover in time to play a part in India’s T20 World Cup campaign, he ultimately missed the entire tournament.
It was not the first time Jadeja has been troubled by his right knee, as an injury to the same joint had forced him to miss the ODI leg of India’s tour of the West Indies in July. He has since been undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
Jadeja was eventually named in both the ODI as well as Test squads for the tour of Bangladesh, but will now miss at least the limited-over games, scheduled for December 4, 7 and 10.