Mayank Agarwal ruled out of first England Test after bouncer blow

India vs England 1st Test: Agarwal was hit on the back of his head by a bouncer from Mohammed Siraj in the nets during a training session on Monday.

The 30-year-old Agarwal was ruled out of the BCCI after the assessment by its medical team.   -  Getty Images

Mayank Agarwal, the opening batsman who was a favourite to open India’s innings in the series-opener in England, has been ruled out of the first Test after being concussed during India’s training session in Nottingham on Monday.

“Agarwal was hit on the helmet while batting during India’s nets session at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Monday,” BCCI said in a statement. “The BCCI Medical Team assessed him, and a concussion test was conducted. He has shown signs of concussion and is ruled out of the opening Test against England. The 30-year-old is stable and will remain under close medical observation.”

The Hindu understands that Agarwal was hit on the helmet by a Mohammed Siraj bouncer and fell on the ground. While his teammates and the medical staff led by physiotherapist Nitin Patel attended him, the decision to rest him was taken with the match scheduled to get underway in less than 48 hours.

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Agarwal’s injury further thickens the plot over Rohit Sharma’s opening batsman in Nottingham in the first Test. With Shubman Gill having returned to India after aggravating a shin injury during the World Test Championship final, Agarwal was the front-runner to partner Rohit.

During the three-day tour game in Durham from July 20, Rohit and Agarwal had opened the first innings while Cheteshwar Pujara had paired with Agarwal in the second.

Ajinkya Rahane, the India vice-captain, has stressed on the importance of starting well in order to achieve India’s first series win in England since 2007.

“The conditions are completely different. We played them at home (earlier this year) where the conditions were familiar to us,” Rahane said on Monday, ahead of the first Test in Nottingham from Wednesday.

“We have played a lot of cricket here, but getting used to the conditions is the key. Being in the present moment matters a lot. So for us, starting well here at Nottingham is very important.”

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A majority of India’s core group has toured England thrice but have been far from being close to repeating the act of Rahul Dravid’s team in 2007. To add to that, India has been hit with a string of injury concerns ahead of the series.

Even Rahane missed the tour game in Durham due to a hamstring injury. Referring to it as a “niggle”, Rahane stressed he has fully recovered and ready to go. I am looking forward to the Test match.

“I am completely prepared. The preparation has been really good so far for me,” Rahane said. “Even though I didn’t play the three-day game, I was practising on the sides. Here in Nottingham, we have had a couple of good practice sessions so I am completely ready.”

Contraries to the theories floated about Cheteshwar Pujara set to be forced to open in the absence of Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal, Rahane referred to Pujara as a “solid No. 3 batsman”.

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“Pujara is our No. 3 batsman. Who will open our innings, we are finalising our combination. Pujara has been really solid for us as No. 3 batsman and he will continue to bat at No. 3. As for the opening batsman, the captain, coach and management will decide the combination and you will get to know soon.”

Shaw, Yadav to reach London on Tuesday

The national selectors have added Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav to the Test as back-up. However, after completing mandatory isolation after being in close contact with Krunal Pandya in Colombo, Shaw and Suryakumar are set to arrive in London.

With another quarantine in offing, the duo is set to be unavailable for the first two Tests. As a result, it will be interesting to see if K.L. Rahul, who scored a hundred batting at No. 5 during the tour game, is preferred over reserve opener Abhimanyu Easwaran in Nottingham.

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