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Pathan backs Gill, Iyer to retain their places in second Test against England

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Former all-rounder Irfan Pathan doesn't want either Shubman Gill or Shreyas Iyer to be dropped from the Indian playing XI for the second Test against England as he feels their experience is crucial in the absence of senior players like Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.

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Both Gill (23, 0) and Iyer (35, 13) struggled against the English spinners in the first Test in Hyderabad, which India lost by 28 runs to trail 0-1 in the five-match series.

But with Kohli, Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja not playing the second Test, beginning in Visakhaptnam on Friday, Pathan doesn't believe the Indian team management will take the risk of including young Sarfaraz Khan in the playing eleven.

"A senior player like Virat Kohli's absence is a massive factor. Over that KL Rahul is also injured. So the team management has plenty to think about. They need to think whether to give a chance to a new player straight away or wait a bit," Pathan said on the sidelines of the launch of Asian Legends League.

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"There is no doubt that these two boys (Gill and Iyer) haven't performed for quite sometime now but it not that they have never performed." In case the team management decides to include a new batter, the toss up will be between Rajat Patidar and Sarfaraz, who has scored tons of runs in domestic cricket.

"Obviously, there are two new players in the squad -- Rajat Patidar and Sarfaraz. But the Indian team management doesn't have Virat Kohli's service at the moment, so it will be difficult for the team management to blood in a new player straightaway. They would want to back experience," Pathan explained.

"So it's a big challenge but looking at the scenario, they might be now thinking of going with experience. Shreyas and Shubman have been there for quite sometime now and have experience, which comes into play in crunch situations.

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"I feel the team management will back them because 2-3 experience players are not there in the team," the former bowling all-rounder added.

In case one among Patidar and Sarfaraz is picked, Pathan's vote is with the former as he made the squad before the prolific Mumbai 'Run Machine'.

Pathan, however, doesn't want to press the panic button after loss in the series opener and backed India to win the five-match rubber.

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"We lost just one match but that doesn't mean our bowlers are not good. I knew we would lose one or two match but it is good because there is plenty of learning from defeat. I hope we win the series and I still feel India will win the series. The series is not over yet," he said.

"I was really shocked that we lost but I am still hopeful that we will make a comeback." He also came in support of skipper Rohit Sharma, who faced some flak for his decisions in the opening Test.

"Rohit Sharma is a good captain. Yes, he made some mistakes in the last match but hope he will do everything to make a comeback in the series." The Asian Legends League is a five-team tournament is set to be held across Asian countries from March 13 to 21.

Former India pacer Chetan Sharma is the commissioner of the league, which has Indian Royals, Sri Lankan Lions, Afghanistan Pathan, Bangladesh Tiger and Pakistan Stars as the competing teams. PTI SSC SSC KHS KHS

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