Abhimanyu Easwaran and Arzan Nagwaswalla are the two unknown standbys in Test squad.
Hardik Pandya was a surprise exclusion from India’s squad for the World Test Championship final and the England Tests. However, there was a couple of surprise inclusions as standbys. Although they would be part of intra-squad games during the tour, they may be called to represent India if the need arises.
Out of four standbys, two were known faces in Avesh Khan and Prasidh Krishna who were part of IPL 2021. But the other two were unknown faces – Abhimanyu Easwaran and Arzan Nagwaswalla. Not much is known about them. CricChronicle unravels the mystery behind these players.
Who: Abhimanyu Easwaran, 25
What: Top-order batsman
Record: 64 First Class games, 4401 runs @ 43.57 with 13 tons and 18 fifties
Why: Abhimanyu Easwaran, captain of the Bengal team, has been in the running for a place in the Test team for quite some time. He scored 861 runs @ 95.66 in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy and knocked at the door for national selection. But a dip in form in the next season hampered his chance of a Test call-up. But he was recognised as a special talent and was in the reserve for the 2020-21 Test series against England at home. And he has been given a spot in the standbys for the upcoming tour as well.
Abhimanyu told a cricket website that just being in the dressing room for the England series at home “was a great learning experience. Just watching Virat Kohli’s intensity at training was an education.”
Who: Arzan Nagwaswalla, 23
What: Left-arm medium pace bowler
Record: 16 First Class matches, 62 wickets @ 22.53 with 4 five-wicket hauls.
Why: Left-arm pacers are in great demand in every team as they provide variety to the bowling attack, and help prepare home batsmen against the opposition’s left-arm bowlers. Besides, left-arm bowler T Natarajan, who has been part of the India squad since the Australia tour, is injured. But those were not the only reasons why left-arm medium-pacer Nagwaswalla is in the standbys for the Test squad.
His performance has made selectors take note of him, and include him in the standbys. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy that was held before IPL 2021, Nagwaswalla ended up as the second-highest wicket-taker with 19 wickets in 7 games.
He was also part of the Mumbai Indians squad in IPL 2021 as a net bowler. And interacting with Mumbai’s Director of Cricket Operations Zaheer Khan, who is also his idol, made a great difference. Nagwaswalla told a cricket site that Zak told him that his bowling is fine, but he needs to focus more on the training as it would help in his bowling.