Manav Suthar and Pulkit Narang are India A’s lead spinners for first two England Lions games


Abhimanyu Easwaran will lead India A in the England Lions' first two matches visiting Ahmedabad later this month. The five-Test series ghost tour between India and England begins with a two-day warm-up match on January 12-13, followed by a four-day first-class match from January 17-20, all two in Ahmedabad.
Abhimanyu was the reserve opener during India's recent two-Test tour of South Africa, and is a hot favorite to play a similar role in the home Tests. The team also has B Sai Sudharsanwho scored back-to-back half-centuries in his first two ODIs against South Africa last month, as Abhimanyu's most likely opening partner, with Devdutt Padikkal not included. Padikkal, who featured in the first four-day match in South Africa last month, scored 193 against a strong attack from Punjab during the opening round of the Ranji Trophy in Hubli on Saturday.
The middle order looks formidable, with Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan And Pradosh Ranjan Paul, Tamil Nadu's best runner of the 2022-23 Ranji season, rewarded for his consistency. Patidar and Sarfaraz could be given extra consideration if selectors look for middle-order options for the Test team – Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul were India's No.5 and No.6 in South Africa behind No.4 Virat Kohli.
KS Bharatthe reserve wicketkeeper on the tour of South Africa, is first choice and a likely favorite to make the squad as second wicketkeeper for the England Tests, with Dhruv Jurel named his understudy. Jurel scored one of three half-centuries for India A in their second four-day match at Benoni late last month.
Meanwhile, there is a second India A order in the spin department for Rajasthan. Manav Suthar. It is unclear at this stage whether this is a decision aimed at not exposing England to a lot of top-quality spin or whether Suthar is, indeed, on the selectors' radar. But Suthar, a left-arm spinner, enjoyed good returns in the final Ranji season picking up 39 wickets, and then impressed in the Emerging Asia Cup in Sri Lanka in July. Pulkit Narangwho works in services, is the second rotation option.
Navdeep Saini, Vidwath Kaverappa, Tushar Deshpande And Deep Akash, all of whom are part of South Africa's 'A' team, have been rewarded with call-ups as the attack remains largely unchanged. While Saini, Deshpande and Akash Deep have been in the India A setup for some time, Kaverappa came into his own with a strong performance from the South Zone in the season-opening Duleep Trophy.

These matches will be followed by two more four-day encounters, also in Ahmedabad.

India A team against England

Abhimanyu Easwaran (captain), B Sai Sudharsan, Rajat Patidar, Sarfaraz Khan, Pradosh Ranjan Paul, KS Bharat (week), Manav Suthar, Pulkit Narang, Navdeep Saini, Tushar Deshpande, Vidwath Kaverappa, Dhruv Jurel (week), Akash Deep



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