Rajat Patidar, or Sarfaraz Khan, or both? This was the talking point among fans and must have been among the Indian team management ahead of the 2nd Test against England, which started on Friday morning in Visakhapatnam.
Eventually, on expected lines, Rajat Patidar got his Test debut cap on the morning of the match, but Sarfaraz Khan didn’t. Patidar replaced KL Rahul, Kuldeep Yadav replaced Ravindra Jadeja, and Mukesh Kumar replaced Mohammed Siraj. This meant that India’s batting was shorter and weaker than it was in the first Test, which the hosts lost by 28 runs, in Hyderabad.
Why did India hand Test debut to Patidar over Sarfaraz, despite the Mumbai batter averaging 69 in first-class cricket?
2 reasons why Rajat Patidar was picked over Sarfaraz Khan:
Patidar has shown a better temperament to handle pressure situations
When Virat Kohli pulled out from the first two Tests ahead of the start of the series, India called up Rajat Patidar and not Sarfaraz. This clearly meant that the selectors and management valued Patidar’s experience and temperament – he has a century in an IPL playoff and helped Madhya Pradesh win the Ranji Trophy 2022 title – more than Sarfaraz’s numbers. It also rendered Patidar ahead in the pecking order than Sarfaraz.
26-year-old Sarfaraz has an average of 69 in 45 first-class matches, while Patidar has featured in 55 first-class matches, averaging 45.
Over the past decade in domestic cricket, Patidar has developed a reputation of doing well on tough surfaces, something which Sarfaraz hasn’t.
Patidar has batted in the top order in his FC career, while Sarfaraz has batted in the lower-order
This is the factor that seems to have weighted Patidar’s case stronger than Sarfaraz’s. Patidar has batted at number 3 and 4 for Madhya Pradesh for most of his first-class career. On the other hand, Sarfaraz, until before recently, was batting at number 5 and below for Mumbai in red-ball cricket.
Very few lower-middle-order batters in domestic cricket have played in the Indian Test team. The basic belief could be that if you are not trusted to bat in the top four of your domestic side, how would you be good enough to take on the challenges of batting in the top 5 in international cricket?
Also, before Patidar’s selection ahead of the first Test, he had creamed two big scores of 111 and 151 against the England Lions while batting in the top three.
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 2, 2024