India coach Anil Kumble has hinted that Karun Nair's triple-hundred in India's last Test might not earn him an automatic spot in the XI for the one-off Test against Bangladesh on Thursday. Kumble said while the performance was a huge boost to the overall make-up of the side, they have not forgotten what Ajinkya Rahane - whom Nair had replaced - has done for the team. As things stand, if India stick to their combination of five bowlers, only one of them will play.
A finger injury had ruled out Rahane from the last two Tests against England, paving the way for Nair to get an extended run in the middle-order. His 303 not out in Chennai showed India's batting riches went very deep, but if he makes way for Rahane, he will perhaps become one of a very few men who miss their next Test after scoring a triple-ton. In April 1930, England's Andy Sandham made 325 in the timeless Test against West Indies and did not play again, although that may have been because he was 39 years old then.
"We still haven't thought about the combination but it is nice that Karun took his opportunity and did what he did in Chennai," Kumble said. "It is fantastic for a young cricketer to come in and score a triple-hundred. But we know what Ajinkya has done for this team. Ajinkya's performances have been phenomenal across conditions. It is nice that somebody who came in to replace Ajinkya because of the injury in Mumbai, took three or four innings and was able to score a three-hundred. It's nice to have to have that kind of contribution and that kind of ability from the youngsters."
Kumble lent his support to M Vijay and KL Rahul to keep opening the batting, and said Abhinav Mukund has been selected as back-up. Vijay and Rahul have been the most used pair at the top of the order for India in the last 12 months, but they have only put together a single 50-plus stand during this period.
"I don't think the opening slot is a concern at all. Vijay and Rahul have played wonderfully well in the last series. It's just that you need a back-up. As far as we are concerned, openers have had [injury] issues, in the West Indies and in the home series as well. It's just a concern.
"Abhinav brings in not just the experience of playing at the international level but also lots of runs in the domestic season gone by. So he is in good form. And it's a reward for what he has been able to achieve in the domestic circuit," he said.
Kumble said he was also keen on keeping Hardik Pandya in consideration given his combination of bowling at a fair clip and his aggressive batting in the middle-order. Pandya returned from injury against England in last month's ODI series and Kumble said his skills will be handy when they play abroad.
"We certainly want to keep Hardik in the mix," Kumble said. "He is someone who has the ability to become a good allrounder even in the longer format. It's rare that you have someone who can run in and bowl at close to 140 kph and bat in the middle order.
"He hasn't been tested in the longer format. But we believe that if he is part of this mix. Whenever the opportunity comes, we will try him out. In the future, whenever we travel outside India, he will be someone we will probably look at."