Rahul Chahar likely to be replacement, while status of Rahul Tewatia – who had also failed fitness tests – is unclear
Mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy is set to miss India’s five-match T20I series against England that will take place from March 12 to 20. Chakravarthy is understood to have failed to clear the mandatory fitness tests set by the BCCI. It is likely that the selectors will draft in Rahul Chahar as a replacement, with the legspinner having already been named as one of the net bowlers for the series.
Meanwhile, Rahul Tewatia is currently training with the national squad in Ahmedabad. Tewatia, who received his maiden national call-up for the series, had also failed in his initial fitness test. It is not yet clear whether Tewatia – picked as a bowling allrounder after his exploits for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2020 – will get another chance to clear his fitness test or be asked to continue as a net bowler only.
For Chakravarthy, 29, it’s the second time he’ll be missing out on an opportunity for a potential India debut, having been initially picked in the T20I squad for the tour of Australia, but ruled out due to a shoulder injury then. Chakravarthy was picked on the back of his IPL 2020 performances, where he emerged as one of the standout uncapped Indian players. However, the shoulder injury meant Chakravarthy never even travelled to Australia, which allowed T Natarajan to make his international debut.
Chakravarthy had a lengthy rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, following which the selectors picked him for the England T20Is – subject to everyone being picked clearing their fitness tests, whose targets the BCCI had revised recently.
It is understood that to be part of India’s limited-overs squads, clearing the fitness tests is a key selection criteria imposed by the BCCI at the behest of the team management and the selectors. In the new fitness standards, players have the choice to either clear the yo-yo test, whose level has been increased to 17:1, or run two kilometres in 8.15 minutes (for bowlers) and 8.30 minutes (for the rest).
It could not be confirmed which of the tests both Chakravarthy and Tewatia had failed to clear. While Tewatia travelled to Ahmedabad from Jaipur after representing Haryana in the league phase of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (the domestic 50-overs competition), Chakravarthy’s whereabouts could not be ascertained.
As for Chahar, this will be the second time he will part of the T20I squad after he made his debut in the Caribbean, where he played one T20I and picked up 1 for 27.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo