Wasim Jaffer: Former Indian cricketer Wasim Jaffer has urged the Indian team management to consider playing key players in the next round of the Ranji Trophy ahead of the upcoming Border Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia.
Jaffer believes that playing some key players in the domestic tournament will provide valuable game time and help them to be better prepared for the series.
Jaffer, who is considered one of the best openers India has ever produced, stated that no matter how experienced a player is, they need game time in red-ball cricket to be fully prepared for a Test series.
He said, “You don’t want to be undercooked when you play that first Test. It’s a huge series from all perspectives — whether it’s the World Test Championship (WTC) final that India can get into or can become the world’s number one Test side as well. India needs to do everything that it can so they are ready for that first Test match. Virat Kohli hasn’t played a lot of Test cricket for a while; Rohit and a lot of others as well.”
Jaffer’s comments come after India’s series win against New Zealand in the ODIs, which means that the final ODI match to be played in Indore on Tuesday is a dead rubber. Jaffer believes that some key players should be allowed to participate in the next round of the Ranji Trophy, which is also starting on Tuesday, to get some game time under their belt.
Some of the key players who Jaffer believes should be playing in the Ranji Trophy are Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Rohit Sharma. Kohli and Rahul last played a Test match in December 2022 against Bangladesh, while Rohit Sharma was last seen playing in the red-ball format in March 2022 against Sri Lanka at Bengaluru.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Jaydev Unadkat are already playing in the Ranji Trophy for Saurashtra, ahead of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia starting from February 9 in Nagpur. Jaffer believes that players like Pujara and Unadkat, who are already playing in the domestic tournament, should be joined by other key players in the Indian team.
Jaffer’s comments have also raised questions about the role of the domestic cricket platform in the selection process. Many believe that domestic cricket should be given more weightage and that players who perform well in domestic cricket should be given a fair chance to prove themselves at the international level.
The former Indian opener also suggested that wicketkeeper-batsman KS Bharat, who is currently part of India’s ODI squad, should be released to play in Andhra’s next match in the Ranji Trophy as he’s highly unlikely to feature in the Indore ODI with Ishan Kishan in the playing eleven.
Both Bharat and Kishan are named in India’s Test squad for the first two Tests against Australia in the absence of Rishabh Pant, who is recovering from multiple injuries suffered in a horrific car accident on December 30.
“(It is) more likely that KS Bharat is not going to play the third ODI. It makes sense to send him to play that Ranji game. He is more likely to play in place of Rishabh Pant. He has big shoes to fill. He is going to play a lot of Test cricket in Pant’s absence.” Jaffer said.
The Indian team management should take Wasim Jaffer’s suggestions seriously and consider playing key players in the next round of the Ranji Trophy. It will provide them with valuable game time and help them to be better prepared for the upcoming Border Gavaskar Trophy series against Australia