Sarfaraz Khan, the Mumbai batsman who has been scoring heavily in domestic cricket, has received a surprise call-up to the Indian Test squad for the second match against England in Visakhapatnam. Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has backed him to make his Test debut and fill the void left by KL Rahul’s injury.
Sarfaraz Khan’s Impressive Domestic Form
Sarfaraz Khan, 24, has been one of the most consistent and prolific run-scorers in the Indian domestic circuit in the last few seasons. He has amassed 3,221 runs in 42 first-class matches, at an average of 64.42, with 12 centuries and 14 half-centuries. He also has a triple hundred and a double hundred to his name.
Sarfaraz has been especially dominant in the 2023-24 season, scoring 1,038 runs in 10 matches, at an average of 86.50, with four centuries and three half-centuries. He was the second-highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy, behind only his Mumbai teammate Prithvi Shaw, who scored 1,118 runs.
Sarfaraz also impressed in the recent unofficial Test series against England Lions, where he scored 220 runs in three innings, at an average of 73.33, with a brilliant knock of 161 off 160 balls in the second match.
Harbhajan Singh’s Endorsement for Sarfaraz Khan
Harbhajan Singh, the veteran Indian off-spinner who has played 103 Tests and taken 417 wickets, has congratulated Sarfaraz Khan for his maiden Test call-up and suggested that he should be given a chance to play in the second Test against England in Vizag.
Harbhajan, on his YouTube channel, said that Sarfaraz has earned his place in the squad with his consistent performance in domestic cricket and that he can provide stability and solidity to the Indian middle-order, which has been struggling for runs in the absence of Virat Kohli.
Harbhajan said, “I think Sarfaraz should play. He has been scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket. He performed well in the games against England Lions as well. He can bat at number five or six and give some depth to the batting line-up. He can also bowl some off-spin if needed.”
Harbhajan also warned Sarfaraz that he should not waste this opportunity and make the most of it, as Kohli will return for the third Test and Rahul will also recover from his injury soon. He said, “He has to grab this chance with both hands and show his talent. He has to score runs and prove himself. He has to make a statement and cement his place in the team. Otherwise, it will be difficult for him to get another chance.”
India’s Squad and Playing XI for the Second Test
India have made three changes to their squad for the second Test against England, which will start from February 2 in Vizag. KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, and Rajat Patidar have been ruled out due to injuries, and Sarfaraz Khan, Sourabh Kumar, and Washington Sundar have been added as their replacements.
India lost the first Test in Hyderabad by 10 wickets and are trailing the five-match series 0-1. They will be looking to bounce back and level the series in Vizag, where the pitch is expected to assist the spinners more than the pacers.
Harbhajan Singh has picked his playing XI for the second Test, which includes Sarfaraz Khan as the only change from the first Test. He has also suggested that India should play four spinners and one pacer, as the conditions will favour the spinners.
Harbhajan’s Playing XI: Rohit Sharma ©, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, Srikar Bharat (WK), Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav/Mohammad Siraj.