Mukesh Kumar or Prasidh Krishna: The Fifth Pacer Conundrum for India’s Test Series in South Africa

In the lead-up to the announcement of India’s squad for the much-anticipated Test series against South Africa, chief selector Ajit Agarkar and his panel face a crucial decision — the selection of the fifth pacer. The contest for this coveted spot boils down to a choice between the experienced Mukesh Kumar and the promising Prasidh Krishna.

The Pace Puzzle

With the frontline pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, and Mohammed Siraj already locked in, and the inclusion of the versatile Shardul Thakur, the spotlight now falls on the fifth bowler’s role. The selection committee has shown a willingness to move past veterans Jaydev Unadkat and Umesh Yadav, leaving the door open for either Mukesh Kumar or Prasidh Krishna.

Mukesh Kumar: The Bengal Pacer

Mukesh Kumar, who made an impressive Test debut against the West Indies in July, has garnered attention for his consistent performances as a right-arm quick for Bengal. The 30-year-old, with ten white-ball internationals for India under his belt, boasts 151 first-class scalps in 40 games at an impressive average of 21.62. Known for his control, consistency, and the ability to bowl long spells, Mukesh has been earmarked for Test cricket, especially after the departure of Ishant Sharma.

Prasidh Krishna: The Karnataka Speedster

On the other hand, Prasidh Krishna, a tall right-arm seamer from Karnataka, stands as an equally bright prospect for Test cricket. However, historical injury concerns have hindered the 25-year-old’s progress. With his height and potential to excel on South African pitches, Prasidh remains a compelling option, despite not featuring in any first-class cricket since March 2022.

The Dilemma

The selection committee faces a dilemma in choosing between the experienced and consistent Mukesh Kumar and the promising but injury-prone Prasidh Krishna. A report in the Times of India suggests that the decision might hinge on Mukesh’s evolution, which has been particularly impressive.

Additional Considerations

In addition to the pace conundrum, the selectors will also deliberate on the possibility of recalling KL Rahul as a Test match wicketkeeper-batter. Rahul’s impressive performance behind the stumps during the ICC World Cup 2023 has brought him into contention. Despite trying KS Bharat and Ishan Kishan in the role during Rishabh Pant’s absence, the team management is yet to be convinced.

As the selectors finalize the squad on Thursday (November 30), Indian cricket fans await with bated breath to know whether Mukesh Kumar or Prasidh Krishna will join the pace arsenal for the challenging Test series in South Africa, commencing on December 26. The decision is poised to shape India’s strategy in the marquee series against the Proteas.