WTC final: Decoding India's XI for the summit clash
India are set to play the World Test Championship final against New Zealand at The Ageas Bowl, starting June 18. The Virat Kohli-led side commenced group practice session at a ground behind the main venue on Thursday. In the coming few days, the team management will monitor the players in order to finalize the playing XI for the finale. Lets us analyze the same.
In India's previous two Test series (vs Australia and England), Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill made up an effective opening pair. Both Rohit and Gill have a sound technique against the short ball. However, the New Zealand fast bowlers will test the batsmen with swing this time. Hence, India could also try the experienced Mayank Agarwal as the second opener alongside Rohit.
The likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane brings plenty of experience to the table. Hanuma Vihari, who missed the England series due to injury, is expected to bat at number six. India would want to use his County experience in the finale. Notably, Vihari made his Test debut in England in 2018. The flamboyant Rishabh Pant will follow Vihari in the line-up.
Ideally, India should play three seamers in Southampton to make room for all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who is their prized possession presently. Team India will have to drop either Jadeja or Vihari in order to play an extra seamer. Shardul Thakur could also be drafted, considering his batting prowess. Notably, Hardik Pandya played as the fourth seamer in the 2018 Southampton Test against England.
Ravichandran Ashwin played a key role in India's home series win against England. Similarly, the three-dimensional Jadeja stole the show at the IPL. However, looking at the scenario, it is evident that only one of them can feature in the XI. The latter seems to be leading this race. He averages 32.52 with the bat (6 fifties), beside taking 63 wickets, away from home.
The trio of Shami, Ishant, and Bumrah has played a key role in India's success overseas. This is the first time since February 2020 that all the three pacers are available for selection. They last played together on the 2019/20 New Zealand tour.
As per reports, the Indian management is keen on playing Mohammed Siraj in the final. The Indian fast bowler, who made his Test debut Down Under, went on take his maiden five-for in Brisbane as the Indians captured the series 2-1. Siraj, also fared well in the truncated IPL 2021, carries the propensity to trouble the batsmen with his searing pace and deceptive swing.
India's probable XI for WTC final: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah