International cricket is set to return India after the COVID-19 halt with the four-match Test series against England. The opening Test gets underway on February 5 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Stakes are incredibly high in the series as Team India can consolidate their position at the top of ICC World Test Championship (WTC) team standings, confirming their place in the finals at Lord’s. On the other hand, Joe Root’s men, who are currently fourth in the points table, need nothing less than a series win to stay in the race for finals. Below, we’ll look at India’s likely playing XI for the first Test. India vs England 2021 Schedule, Free PDF Download: Get Fixtures, Time Table With Match Timings in IST and Venue Details of IND vs ENG Test, T20I and ODI Series.
While India had to field a second-string team against Australia, they face a pleasant problem of plenty to pick their playing XI for the first Test. With big guns like Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma back in the team, there will be some heart-breaking axing of young players who did exceptionally well in Australia. However, taking bold decisions isn’t new to Kohli. So, as the first IND vs ENG Test match takes a countdown, let’s look at the probable line-up of the home team. India vs England 2021: Here’s How IND & ENG Fared in Their Last Tussle on Indian Soil.
Openers: The opening pair of Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma did well in Australia and the team management would not like to tinker with the combination. However, one has to feel for Mayank Agarwal who has scored two double centuries in five home Tests. Nonetheless, Gill and Rohit need to deliver consistently, specially with someone like Agarwal warming the benches.
Middle Order: With the mighty Virat Kohli back in the team, India’s middle-order looks solid as ever. The skipper piled up a plethora of runs when England last visited India in 2016 and would like to replicate his heroics. Cheteshwar Pujara toiled the Aussie bowlers down under and will be a big threat for the Three Lions as well. The number five spot will remain with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane who was India’s only centurion against Australia.
Wicket-keeper: Although Wriddhiman Saha was India’s first-choice wicket-keeper in last five home Tests, Rishabh Pant seemed to have sealed the spot with his blitzes down under. The southpaw can be an absolute nightmare for the bowlers, and keeping him in benches would raise many eyebrows. With England not having big names in the spin department, the dasher would be licking his lips to take the field.
All-Rounder: With Ravindra Jadeja ruled out of the fixture, someone else needs to fill the number seven slot. Although Hardik Pandya has been drafted in the squad and is a potential candidate, the all-rounder likely to warm the benches as he’s is yet to regain his bowling fitness. Hence, the choice is between Axar Patel and Washington Sundar. Although Patel would be a like-to-like replacement for Jadeja, Sundar is likely to continue in the line-up after his spectacular debut in Brisbane.
Bowlers: With the Chennai track favouring the slow bowlers, Team India is likely to take the field with three spinners. While Sundar will chip in with his off-breaks, Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav will be the two front-line spinners. Ashwin must be high on confidence after his performance against Australia while Kuldeep Yadav, who hasn’t played a Test since January 2019, has a point to prove.
Pacers will fill the remaining two slot. Although Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj proved their mettle down under, they are likely to warm benches with Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah back in the scheme of things. While Sharma has a plethora of experience in these conditions, Bumrah would be raring to make a mark in his first Test at home.
India’s Probable XI For First Test Against England: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah.
(The above story first appeared on Reportr Door on Feb 01, 2021 02:01 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website reportrdoor.com).