Team India Squad Preview for England Series:
Squad: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (Vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Rishab Pant (Wicket-Keeper), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Md. Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket-keeper).
Like ODIs, Rohit Sharma’s test graph has improved immensely since he has started opening in Test Matches. He is averaging 60.78 with S/R of 62.66. He also scored his only double ton while opening the innings against South Africa at Ranchi. His England numbers don’t look that great but he has played just 2 matches in England and only 1 as an opener. He looked solid during the recently concluded WTC final to see off the new ball against the swing. However, Team India as well as he would also look to convert his starts in the big ones. He is a fixed and designated opener for the coming series against England unless and until some injury curse happens before or during the series.
With Shubman Gill ruled out of the England series, Mayank Agarwal is most likely to make his comeback in the 11 and open the innings for India. Well, he truly deserves to be as well as his overall test records look very good. While he has a fair record in his tiny outing in whites so far, a couple of good numbers about him are: 1) He has top-scored in innings 5 times with the likes of Rohit, Virat, Rahane, and Pujara being in the team. 2) He almost scores 15% of team runs which promises to give good starts.
Pujara has become a hot topic for Indian cricket fans in recent times as he has failed to score to his liking and his strike rate also falling sharply. He was a member of the India squad in India’s last two tours to England. (2014 & 2018). His overall England record is also not that good and he has managed just 1 century and 2 half-centuries in 20 innings. With these stats and his current form, it is going to be very tough for Pujara in the coming series if he makes it to the playing XI.
Virat Kohli: (C)
Well everybody has seen two different Virat Kohli in his last two England tours (2014 & 2018). After a miserable 2014 tour, he made an unbelievable comeback in 2018 by scoring 593 runs in 10 innings with an average of 59.3 & 2 centuries compared to his forgettable performance of 140 runs in 10 innings in 2014. Despite his good outing last time, he would be under pressure due to his current performance where he has failed to convert his starts. Hope we get to see master back in business in style.
Ajinkya Rahane: (VC)
Rahane has always been a silent performer for India and probably been the Mr Dependable for this Indian side. His overall stats might raise questions but he has stood out when the team need the most and has been a very impactful player. Although his stats don’t look good, as mentioned above, he has the capabilities to perform in the downfall and his impact is very commendable. It would be so uncalled for to doubt his place in the playing XI.
Hanuma Vihari has done well in whatever opportunities he has got so far. His efforts to draw (despite being injured) the 3rd match against Australia in the recently concluded BG trophy was nothing less than greatness. However, he is still likely to sit on the bench as his place seems unlikely in the playing XI due to 4 bowlers who will be most likely to make it into the XI.
Pant has been the best player in this India side since the start of 2021 and he has given some big performances including his unbeaten 89 during India’s historic Gabba win. He was also a part of the Indian squad during the 2018 England tour and scored a century also. He is constantly improving as a batsman and also looked resilient during India’s 2nd Innings in the WTC final before departing on 41. He is going to be first choice wicket-keeper to begin the series.
Ashwin is India’s leading wicket-taker in this squad and he also holds a decent performance record in England where it is believed to be a nightmare for spinners. He was also the leading wicket-taker in the previous edition of WTC. He has taken 18 wickets so far in 14 innings in England with an average of 28.11 and the best figure of 4/62. He will be the first-choice spinner and he also has the ability to bat and score some useful runs in the lower order.
After his forgetful outing in the WTC final, he could be a dropout against England due to conditions favouring pacers. While the improved cricketer he has become since 2019 across all formats, it is very tough to outside him but England’s condition is not likely to help him be in the playing XI. But if any venue is likely to offer some spin, he would be the first choice after Ashwin to make into the side.
Axar had a very good debut series against the same opposition at home but despite that performance, he is unlikely to be in the Playing XI due to obvious reasons like his inexperience and less requirement of his abilities on English pitches in the coming series.
Washi had an excellent debut against Aussies and played a very vital role in Gabba alongside Shardul Thakur in making sure to not concede a big lead in the 1st innings. He also played a crucial part in the second innings of the same match in making India’s historic win. Sundar’s batting stats are good so far in his 4 matches with an average of 66.25 and his bowling record is also okay but playing conditions in England will make him warm the bench as he is not likely to get a game.
The current leader of the Indian pace attack and one of the best in the business Jasprit Bumrah did not have the best of the outcomes in the WTC final in the wicket column as he went wicket-less. But despite going wicket-less, he threatened the Kiwis most and induced 54 false shots in 220 balls in the match. His England record also looks decent and second-best for current Indian pacers after Mohd. Shami in the 2018 hour. Bumrah picked 14 wickets in 3 matches played in the 2018 tour with 1 fifer at an average of 32.50. He hasn’t been in form in the last few matches played for India but is most likely to remain the lead bowler in the coming series.
Ishant Sharma is one of the constant pacers on the Indian side in the last decade and he was also a part of all three tours to England in the last decade (2011, 2014 & 2018) by India. His bowling performance is also very good in seaming conditions and has picked up 46 wickets with an average of 33.20 with a couple of fifers. He also registered his career-best figures of 7/74 at the home of cricket (Lord’s) in 2014. With fans giving different opinions about his inclusion ahead of the England series, we don’t feel he should be warming the bench in initial matches. He brings lots of experience in the side and has been absolute up to the mark in the later phase of his test career under Virat Kohli’s Captaincy.
Like Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami also has been very impressed with his bowling under Virat Kohli and his stats have been improved marvellously. Shami has played his most number of away test matches in England (9). He was part of the 2014 & 2018 tours and took 16 wickets at an average of 38.88 in 5 matches in 2018. But more important than wickets, he induced 272 false shots in that tour which was the highest by any Indian bowler in the series. This figure was nearly 100 more than the next bowler. He also did well in the WTC final with 4 wicket haul and very troubling line and lengths for the batsman. He is not likely to miss any match except he has to face any injury issues during the series.
Md. Siraj has been a very debatable player amongst Indian fans lately, especially after his debut in Australia earlier this year. His exclusion in the WTC final was highly questioned. Siraj has taken 16 wickets so far in his 5 matches with an impressive average of 28.25. He also has 1 fifer under his belt in his short outing for Indian Side. If rumours are to be believed, he is likely to play all 5 test matches in this series ahead of Ishant Sharma. Well, it’s too early to take a call on both (his inclusion and exclusion) as of now.
Shardul made his test debut back in 2018 and still has played only 2 test matches for India but gave a crucial performance with both bat and ball in India’s historic Gabba win. He scored 67 runs in the first innings while showing proper batsman techniques in Australian conditions and took 7 wickets in the match (3 & 4 in respective innings). Due to his batting abilities, he is highly expected to play this series as a fast-bowling all-rounder which is very healthy for any team in English conditions. He is also a genuine out-swinger of the ball which can be very useful. There is going to be a tough call for Indian skipper and coach to play any 2 from Shardul, Ishant and Siraj as none of them are easy to exclude.
Not taking anything off from this Indian quickie but he is the least likely pacer to play in this series unless someone’s injury curses come. The results other pacers have generated in absence of Umesh have been brilliant and that doesn’t give any promises to be in the playing XI for him. Also, he hasn’t played many matches recently and his away record is very shallow compared to his home record where he has been tremendous over the years.
There has been a lot of news about KL Rahul warming the bench but he has been given several opportunities and has failed to make an impact except one century at The Oval against England in 2018. With the number of abilities and talent that KL carries, he is expected to get some chances in this series as a middle-order batsman which also gives pointers of exclusion of Pujara if he fails in the chances given to him. KL has an average of 34.59 so far in his 60 innings (36 matches).
Wriddhiman Saha: (WK)
As most of the teams nowadays prefer WK batsman over specialist wicket-keeper, India follows the same path and it also has come healthy with Rishab Pant performing best of his all-time this year. Pant’s high scoring and match changing abilities with the bat is very high compared to Saha. Pant also has shown impressive improvement in his wicket-keeping which leaves no reason to exclude him as of now. So again this series is going to be a warming bench for Saha and will be considered only as backup wicket-keeper.
Well, we conclude full squad preview here with all players’ recent and England performances statistically. We would also like to give our playing XI for the 1st match at Trent-bridge and welcome your reviews on the playing XI.
TheSportsLite’s Playing XI for the 1st Test against England:
- Rohit Sharma.
- Mayank Agarwal.
- KL Rahul.
- Virat Kohli. (C)
- Ajinkya Rahane. (VC)
- Rishab Pant. (WK)
- R. Ashwin.
- Shardul Thakur.
- Ishant Sharma/Md. Siraj.
- Mohd. Shami.
- Jasprit Bumrah.
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