KL Rahul and Jaydev Unadkat received injuries on Monday during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), dealing a severe setback to the Indian test squad ahead of their World Test Championship final match against Australia.
Key opening batsman KL Rahul and bowler Jaydev Unadkat have both worried the national team’s camp with hamstring and shoulder issues while serving in the IPL, respectively. Unadkat, a left-arm fast player, collapsed in a bizarre accident on Sunday after tripping on a wire during a net session. The 31-year-old left practise exhausted and is questionable to play in the one-off World Test Championship final on 7 June at The Oval.
The injury compounds India’s fast bowling fitness issues, with Jasprit Bumrah not named in the squad and targeting the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup campaign at the end of the year after recently undergoing back surgery. Unadkat is one of five bowlers named in the squad to take on Australia, though Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav are under fitness clouds of their own.
Rahul’s hamstring injury adds to injury woes on the batting side, and this could force a change of philosophy for India come the final. Already missing Shreyas Iyer and first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, Rahul limped off the field during the Lucknow Super Giants’ match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, refusing to be stretchered off as he clutched his leg.
Should he not take part in the WTC final, Ajinkya Rahane would likely make his first Test appearance in over a year, with Shubman Gill joining skipper Rohit Sharma at the top of the order. Assuming Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli line up at No. 3 and No. 4, Rahane would slide in at No. 5.
Meanwhile, final opponents Australia are seemingly on course to make their final push for the WTC with a clean bill of health. Experienced pacer Josh Hazlewood made a successful return from an Achilles injury that has kept him out since the Sydney Test in January, taking 2/15 from three overs and helping Royal Challengers Bangalore defend their miserly 126.