Shahbaz Nadeem was a surprise inclusion in the Indian team for the first Test against England. With Axar Patel ruled out due to a knee injury, the 31-year-old left-arm spinner got his chance in the Chennai Test.
He will act as India’s third spinner, joining the duo of Washington Sundar and Ravichandran Ashwin. Team India were keen on getting a left-arm spinner in the side to have some variety in the spin department, and Shahbaz Nadeem’s selection makes that possible.
But has he ever played a Test match for India before?
☝️ Theunis de Bruyn
☝️ Lungi Ngidi
Debutant Shahbaz Nadeem picks up the final two wickets in consecutive balls as India seal an innings-and-202-runs victory over South Africa on day four in Ranchi.
— ICC (@ICC) October 22, 2019
Shahbaz Nadeem made his Test debut for India against South Africa in 2019. The left-arm spinner got a chance to represent his nation 15 years after making his domestic debut for Jharkhand in 2004.
At Ranchi, Shahbaz Nadeem had a decent Test debut. He picked up four wickets n the match, scalping two in each innings. The spinner ended with match figures of 4/62 and kept things tight with an economy of 2.30.
Shahbaz Nadeem played alongside India’s premier spin bowling duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Incidentally, he finished the Test as India’s top wicket-taker amongst the spinners, with Ashwin and Jadeja managing one and three wickets respectively.
Clearly, England’s struggle against Embuldeniya has prompted the selection of Shahbaz Nadeem, a fine, vastly experienced finger spinner. But I wonder what this means for Kuldeep. Clearly the team management doesn’t rate him too high at thr moment
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 5, 2021
Many expected Kuldeep Yadav to play in Chennai, and eyebrows were raised after Shahbaz Nadeem made it to India’s playing XI. However, his inclusion makes sense for a variety of reasons.
England have struggled against left-arm spinners in recent times. Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya picked up 15 wickets in the two-match Test series on home soil.
Another reason for picking Shahbaz Nadeem could be the high number of right-handed batsmen in the England team. Shahbaz Nadeem will be expected to make full use of his favourable angle against the English top-order.