#IndiaInEngland: How strong is Virat Kohli-led Test squad?
The BCCI has announced an 18-member squad for the first three Tests against England, starting August 1. Given the size of the squad, one may feel that the Indian board has followed a bizarre selection policy since several players will be benched. However, India have plenty of options to choose from. With the England series being a crucial one, here we analyze the squad.
The squad for first 3 Tests
TEAM NEWS: #TeamIndia for the first three Tests against England announced #ENGvIND. Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the 3rd ODI. His condition is being assessed a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon. pic.twitter.com/lhlF65VRUP— BCCI (@BCCI) July 18, 2018
India's top four batsmen are world-class
India have gone in with regular openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. The duo were excellent against Afghanistan and India will hope they play well against the swinging ball. Cheteshwar Pujara comes in at number three and his County experience will benefit him immensely. Skipper Kohli has been lethal in 2018 and will hope to continue his run. We rate India's top order 9/10.
Big chance for Rahane to shine
With Ajinkya Rahane likely to bat at number five, the onus will be on the vice-captain to get some much needed runs. This series comes in as an ideal opportunity for Rahane to stake claim. Rahane is set to be followed by DK as the wicket-keeper batsman. Youngster Rishabh Pant will likely warm the bench. India's middle-order might be a problem and gets 6/10.
KL Rahul, Karun Nair add depth
In-form KL Rahul is a back-up opener and will need to be on his toes to grab a chance. Karun Nair keeps his place in the squad and adds more depth in the middle-order.
Hardik a valuable player with Ashwin the spin leader
India will go in with Hardik Pandya at number 7. The all-rounder did well against Proteas and adds value both as a fourth pacer and a handy batsman. Ravichandran Ashwin leads the spin attack. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav would sit on the bench. These two all-rounders can help India, in case, there is a middle-order collapse. We rate them 7/10.
India to miss Bumrah, Bhuvi
India are likely to miss the services of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Further, Jasprit Bumrah will not participate in the first Test. But there is an opportunity for Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami to step in and perform. Senior pacer Ishant Sharma leads the pace attack. On paper, these pacers are lethal but due to their history of inconsistent performances, we give them 7/10.
India's Probable Playing XI: 1st Test
Probable playing XI 1st Test: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma.