As India versus England is almost upon us, a lot of talks have already started doing vehement rounds in the circle of Indian fans and pundits regarding the probable eleven that can be fielded by India for the first Test match.
A lot of questions were raised when India resigned in a docile submission against a formidable New Zealand in the World Test Championship finale. What should have ideally been a draw, resulted in the triumph of the Kiwis as the Indian middle-order collapsed with Rishabh Pant being the solitary shaft of hope.
This series will signal the start of India’s journey in the second edition of the World Test Series and will be an important clash given the availability of 60 points to be grabbed as ICC altered their points system.
With Shubman Gill injured, a lot will have to be changed in order for India to face the mighty Britons in a five-match affair. It will be a challenging experience for Kohli and company as this series may even be the last chance for a few Indians to validate themselves once and for all.
In this story, we will be looking at the probable eleven for India who can be a part of the opening Test match between India and England.
KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma
It was an alarming scenario after Shubman Gill got sidelined for the opening Test with an injury and Kohli requested for Prithvi Shaw to be flown to England in order to plug the gap of an opener. Rahul has previously opened the innings for India in both the shorter and the longer versions of the game. He has been a successful opener with 1915 runs at the top. One of his major areas of dominance has been England but most of it came in India. When in England, his average drops to a stooping 29 with a solitary century from the 10 innings that he has played so far. Yet, he will be the first choice for opening the innings alongside Sharma because of his incredible century in the warm-up game against County XI.
Sharma has been a solid answer to what seemed like a shaky question for the Indian opening duo. He was introduced much later to the World Test Championship and yet he managed to come up with flying colours, becoming India’s highest run-scorer in the tournament. He was sublime against the visiting English side and racked up a crucial century to start the retaliation from India. He also got off to a couple of decent starts against New Zealand in the WTC final but failed to convert them into big knocks. He will be a vital cog in India’s plans as they take the field at Trent Bridge.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja
The opening Test match will be most likely be the telling opportunity for Pujara and Rahane to prove their abilities on foreign soil. It has been a while now since both the stars have exhibited some consistency and with Hanuma Vihari and Rahul in the folds, as soon as Gill comes back, India may start looking at altering a few options.
Pujara will now be raring to get a few runs for himself after a fiasco in the warm-up match as well. After stitching a painstaking 21, he was deceived while trying to prance down the pitch. JJ Carlson was the man who got the prized scalp of Pujara and once again exposed India’s frailties to a young County side. However, this man still has the talent to harness patience and eventually turn it into a nightmare for the position. That is the virtue of Pujara that India will be banking on.
It has been a while now since Kohli has successfully turned his 70’s and 80’s into a big knock. Somewhere despite the start that is stoking beliefs, he has failed to nurture it and threw away his wicket in the brashest fashions. In order for India to build big, a lot will rely on the shoulders of King Kohli. In case if India crumbles with the bat again, the management may very well have to make a few compelling and unwanted changes to the side.
Rahane did not star in the warm-up match and will be directly seen on the field against England. His outings have been very questionable in recent times and after that rambunctious display against Australia to level the series, he has been wrapped by a veil of endless darkness. As it applies for Pujara, Rahane will also have to start looking for runs if he wants any hope of survival in the team and he will have to start looking for it shortly.
Rishabh Pant has simply been extraordinary ever since his footfall in the longest format of the game. The man who has provided some brilliant support in the middle and has shown the courage to hammer back the bowlers even under duress, Pant will be a crucial figure in India’s batting line-up. Hs exploits against the mighty Australians and a quickfire 44 against New Zealand in the WTC final will be all the more important reasons for him to be a part of this squad. He is also a decent wicket-keeper and manages to keep his teammates animated even in the toughest of situations.
Jadeja has already proven himself in the warm-up match as he has successfully hammered 75 runs to take Indian to a respectable position. However, Kohli will have to let his guards down and use Jaddu as a full-time bowler. For some oblivious reason, Jadeja’s bowling talents are going to waste and India is basically staying confined to just one spinner wherein they can use the likes of two very efficient spinners. He is also an electrifying fielder and always stays involved in the field.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma
Ashwin’s performance in the WTC final will be the reason for him being selected on the side. He is a decent batter in the tail and is also India’s best off-spinner at the moment. He is also in the middle of wickets which will make him a favourite to be a part of this bowling attack challenging the English force under tricky situations.
Mohammad Shami belted out a top-class showdown in the first innings of the WTC final, claiming half the New Zealand side to keep their ambitions in check. He is a deadly reverse-swing bowler and can generate a good deal of pace while drifting the ball. More importantly, he can swing his bat a bit too and that can fetch important 15-20 runs for India in the end.
This may be a disputable call but I believe that Jasprit Bumrah will need some reality check. He has been woeful, to say the least in the last few outings and Siraj, on the contrary, has been scintillating. Also, he is able to swing the ball emphatically with clicks around 140 plus on a regular basis. His arsenal is much more explosive than that of Bumrah and he can bat too. He is not someone who will get you the runs but he can hang at the other end.
Ishant Sharma’s menacing movement with the ball is what will make him India’s most experienced and most menacing customer in this bowling line-up. Off late, Sharma has also managed to regularly kiss speeds of 140 plus that will make him an added danger to the likes of England.