The Board of Control for Cricket in India [BCCI], on Friday, announced Team India’s squad for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton between June 18-22.
There are no surprises in the squad and almost all the players have made it to the line-up that played on the Australia tour. Axar Patel has been retained as well following his excellent performance in the debut series against England at home.
Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur are the six pacers in the squad. Hanuma Vihari and Ravindra Jadeja who were ruled out due to different injuries during the Australia tour and missed the England series have returned as well.
Meanwhile, KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha have been named in the squad but they will travel only after clearing the fitness test. Rahul underwent surgery for acute appendicitis only recently while Saha, who is the second choice wicketkeeper of India’s Test side, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
Team India, under the leadership of Virat Kohli, finished at the numero-uno spot in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship points tally following their 3-1 win against England on home soil.
The No.1 ranked Test team in the world, India will lock horns with New Zealand in the summit clash in Southampton between June 18-22 post which they will take on England in the return series, starting at Trent Bridge from August 04.
On that note, let’s take a look at Team India’s probable XI in the WTC final against New Zealand.
India’s Predicted Playing XI For WTC Final
Openers: Rohit Sharma & Shubman Gill
Though he might not have been a regular player in the longest format of the game, Rohit Sharma has secured his spot in the playing XI with a dazzling knock against both Australia and England.
It is his brilliant knock in the second Test (161 runs) against England which makes team India eligible for playing the ICC World Test Championship Final. His partnership with Shubman Gill at the top of the order is going to be key for India.
Talking about Shubman Gill, he had a brilliant start to his Test career as he peeled off three half-centuries including a match-winning 91 at the Gabba during India’s triumphant tour of Australia last winter.
But the young Punjab batsman struggles to carry on his fine form on home soil against England as he struggled against the likes of James Anderson.
Gill’s disappointing form continued in the recent IPL season and while there might be a temptation to bench him for Mayank Agarwal, the team management should stick with the young opener for the summit clash.
Middle Order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant (WK)
One can not deny the fact that currently India boasts of a very solid middle-order comprising the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane. In the absence of Kohli during the Australia series, Pujara and Rahane stood tall to take the onus of India’s batting on their shoulders.
The terrific trio has plenty of experience of playing in England and with the rise of wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, India’s middle-order has found an extra boost.
Pant went from strength to strength in Australia with a couple of astonishing knocks. In the home series against England, Pant cemented his spot in the playing XI with consistent performances and also displayed tremendous improvement with the gloves.
All-Rounders: Ravindra Jadeja & Ravichandran Ashwin
Both of them have been the number one all-rounders for team India. Ravindra Jadeja will make a comeback to Test cricket after missing out on the majority of the Test winter against Australia and England due to a fracture he suffered while batting in Sydney in January.
Unlike a couple of seasons ago, Team India can now confidently back Ravindra Jadeja as their no. 1 Test all-rounder. The 32-year-old provides solidity to the batting line-up and contribute with some vital runs lower down the order, something his side might require in the WTC Final. He can take some crucial wickets with his consistent line and length bowling and couple with his fielding heroics, Jadeja is a must pick player for India while heading into WTC final.
Talking about R Ashwin, he had an impactful series in Australia, a place where he had struggled in the past. The success would give him confidence heading into the WTC final. He was brilliant in the home Tests against England as well, but that was pretty much on expected lines.
Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Ishant Sharma
Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma will be the bloomed flowers on the pace-friendly track in Southampton. They will be the key bowlers from Team India. However, the team management, will have a hard time picking up the third pacer.
Shardul Thakur will provide some extra support to the batting line-up while Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have plenty of experience on offer. But considering the recent heroics and performance, Mohammed Siraj is likely to get a nod in the playing XI.