India’s Likely XI For The First Test Match Against England
After a toughly fought limited overs leg of the tour in England, where India clinched the T20 series 2-1 but lost the ODI series 2-1, the focus now is on the 5-match Test series ahead. The 1st Test will commence on 1st August at Birmingham and India will be looking to get fully prepared before that. India will play a practice four-day practice game against the County side Essex and that will be an opportunity for the likes of Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin, who weren’t part of the limited overs side, to get ready for the series. On a positive note, Vijay and Rahane have been in England for some time now with the India A side and Pujara and Ishant Sharma have been playing county cricket with Yorkshire and Sussex, respectively, for the past couple of months after they weren’t picked up by any IPL side.
When it comes to the actual playing XI, the core of the side is quite easy to identify and the fact that most of them have been in England for a good period of time either with the limited overs setup or the India A/County side is only a good thing. The opening slots and the No.3 spot will be a tussle between Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara. On the basis of form and having a good run recently, Dhawan is almost a certainty in the side. Vijay has done well previously in England and his ability to graft in tough conditions could see him take up the other opening spot.
Embed from Getty Images
KL Rahul has been in a magnificent run of form for the past few months and it will be a pretty close call between him and Cheteshwar Pujara for the No.3 slot. Pujara’s lean run with Yorkshire and Rahul’s good form could possibly tilt the balance in favour of Rahul, though. In any case, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri decided to pick any of the three names aforementioned. Virat Kohli will take up his usual slot at No.4 and he will be keen to make a big impact after the disastrous tour he had in England in 2014 during the Tests where he averaged a meager 13. Ajinkya Rahane, who has been appointed as the vice-captain, will play at No.5 and will be a key player for India if they are to perform well.
WICKETKEEPER AND ALLROUNDERS
Dinesh Karthik is likely to take up the role of wicketkeeper after Wriddhiman Saha has been ruled out with a long-term shoulder injury and Parthiv Patel failed to impress in the tour of South Africa earlier this year. At 33, this will be a big opportunity for him and he has fond memories of England – he was part of the side in 2007 that won the Test series in England and he played as an opener, that time around. Hardik Pandya and Ravichandran Ashwin will be part of the side as batting and bowling allrounders, respectively. Kohli has placed a lot of faith in Pandya and he will be eager to play a big role. India have had a dearth of seam bowling allrounders and Pandya being one of them, will be a vital cog for many years to come. Ashwin, who has lost his place in the limited overs side, has always performed very well in Tests and it is imperative for India that he continues to do so.
Embed from Getty Images
Kuldeep Yadav or Ravindra Jadeja could be an option on drier surfaces but looking at the recent nature of surfaces in Birmingham, India will be mostly going in with three frontline quicks. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah are both doubtful for the first Test and in their absence, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, and Mohammed Shami is likely to be the seam bowling line-up. Shami and Ishant did well in South Africa earlier and Kohli will be fully expecting them to be the game-changers, especially if the conditions favour the quick bowlers.
India’s performances abroad have been on a rise under Kohli’s captaincy and the next 12 months will be a defining period for this Indian side with the Australian tour coming up towards the end of the year and the World Cup in mid-2019. Getting off to a positive start in the series will be of huge importance and if India can perform with the bat, they have the bowling attack to get 20 wickets and cause England major problems. A fascinating series lies ahead of us and Kohli and Co. will surely be ready for this challenge.
India’s likely XI for the first Test – Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami
India 1st, 2nd & 3rd Test Squad:
Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami
Embed from Getty Images