The World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle begins with a five-match Test series between India and England, starting on the 4th of August 2021. The Indian Cricket Team are coming into the series after enduring a heart-crushing defeat in the WTC final against New Zealand. Their tendency to lose in the knockouts of an ICC event continued as they finished runners-up in the tournament.
Nevertheless, they would be aiming to focus ahead and take on England in their upcoming assignment. Five months back, India played a four-match against Test series against the same opposition at home. They lost the first Test but went onto win the series 3-1. However, this time around, India would be playing in England and it isn’t going to be easy to face the likes of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad in swinging conditions.
India played the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton and the likes of Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult made Indian batsmen’s life tough. England bowlers too are going to offer a similar threat and Indians must be wary of that.
India should treat the World Test Championship defeat as a learning curve and make necessary altercations ahead of the upcoming series against England. In this article, we have listed out three changes from the WTC playing XI that the Indian Cricket Team could make if they are to win the series against England:
1. KL Rahul in place of Chesteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara emerged as the hero for India during the Border-Gavaskar series victory 2018-2019. However, his performances have been poor since. Pujara hasn’t hit a single century since 2019. In the World Test Championship, he amassed 841 runs at an average of 28 and a strike rate of less than 35.
In an all-important World Test Championship final against New Zealand, he had the responsibility to hold one end together. However, he couldn’t impress and succumbed to low scores in both innings. Pujara’s inconsistency with the bat has become a cause for concern. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if management decides to replace him with KL Rahul at number three in the series.
With Pant testing Covid-19 positive, Rahul’s inclusion into the XI is almost confirmed.
2. Shardul Thakur as the fourth-seamer in the playing XI
India went with two spinners and three fast bowlers in the WTC final against New Zealand in Southampton. However, the bowl didn’t turn as much as Indians expected. Arguably the best fielder in the world Ravindra Jadeja bowled only 15.2 overs in the match. With swinging conditions on offer, Shardul Thakur should replace a spinner in the playing XI as the fourth seamer in the squad.
Shardul Thakur could trouble the batsmen with his swing and seam movement and also provides depth in the batting department. His batting prowess makes him a great candidate to be added to the playing XI ahead of the first Test against England. He, so far, has played 2 Tests, picking 7 wickets at an average of 23.4.
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3. Mohammad Siraj ahead of Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma looked the least impressive fast bowler in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton. He claimed three wickets in the first innings but looked a pale shadow of his past. The Indian fast bowler failed to bowl on fuller lengths and trouble the batsmen. He bowled short throughout the game and it didn’t really help the team’s cause.
Mohammad Siraj, on the other hand, has been in scintillating form with the bowl. Siraj has looked a completely different bowler since his debut tour to Australia. He has enjoyed a great IPL and looked in a great rhythm. Ahead of an important series against England, the Indian Cricket Team perhaps needs the young blood who could bowl it on good lengths consistently for a longer period of time.
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