‘Sarfaraz suddenly makes his case very strong’: Sanjay Manjrekar

Sanjay Manjrekar has backed Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel to make their debut in the third Test against England scheduled

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) Former India cricketer turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar has backed Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel to make their debut in the third Test against England scheduled to start on Thursday at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.

Manjrekar underscored the credentials of Sarfaraz Khan, emphasising the young batter’s impressive track record in first-class cricket. With an average nearing 70 and a penchant for handling spin bowling adeptly, Sarfaraz has been earmarked as a potential game-changer in the forthcoming Test.

Sarfaraz has amassed 3912 runs in 66 FC innings at an average of 69.85, including 14 tons and 11 half-centuries. The wicketkeeper-batter recently returned with scores of 96, 4, 55, and 161 for India A against England Lions.

Manjrekar’s backing of Sarfaraz stems from the belief that his proficiency against spin could prove pivotal in challenging the English bowling attack, particularly in conditions favoring spinners.

“Yes, inexperienced batting lineup, but I think the quality that’s needed in this particular series are just Indian batters who play spin well. There’s where you think Sarfaraz Khan suddenly makes his case very strong. I would want Rajat Patidar as the incumbent to take that place at No. 4 and then have Sarfaraz Khan coming at No. 5 only on the basis that he was in the queue before,” said Manjrekar to ESPNcricinfo.

“The form that he’s had over the long term should count for something and have more weightage than Devdutt Padikkal, who had a great run of late. Enough indication that Sarfaraz Khan would be an interesting batter for India to have to challenge the English spinners. The better player of spin plays. I don’t think Padikkal being a left-hander will just further his case because India have Jadeja, Axar Patel, and Yashasvi Jaiswal,” he added.

Moreover, Manjrekar weighed in on the dilemma surrounding the wicketkeeping position, suggesting Dhruv Jurel as a viable alternative to KS Bharat. Despite Bharat’s valiant efforts, Manjrekar argues that Jurel presents a more exciting prospect, especially in the interim period before Rishabh Pant’s return to the side.

After two Test matches against England, Bharat has returned with scores of 41, 28, 17, and 6. He has scored 221 runs overall at a below-average average of 20.09 in seven Test matches, without recording a half-century. In the interim, Jurel has participated in 15 first-class matches, amassing 790 runs at a 46.67 average, included five fifty-score runs and one hundred.

With Bharat’s recent performances failing to inspire confidence, Manjrekar advocates for a strategic shift towards investing in Jurel, whose promising stint in first-class cricket showcases immense potential.

“I think so (India should bring in Dhruv Jurel)… but I believe that it’s a very short-term sort of role that has to be filled before Rishabh Pant comes in and takes his rightful place. So, it’s a great time to look at another option.”

“You’ve seen enough of KS Bharat now to see what he’s all about and what’s the return you get from investing in him. I find Dhruv Jurel a more exciting investment at this stage.”


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