The first Test match between England and India begins at Trent Bridge on August 4.
The first series of a brand new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle begins with the five-match Test series between England and India starting on August 4. India are coming off from a bitter eight-wicket loss in the WTC Final against New Zealand. While on the other hand, the hosts too suffered a 1-0 series loss against the New Zealand.
With both India and England also having to deal with a fair share of players missing out due to injuries, this series gives a chance to some of the new players to show their mettle.
With Shubman Gill ruled out of the series with a knee injury, followed by Avesh Khan, and Washington Sunder, the management announced replacement players in the form of Suryakumar Yadav and Prithvi Shaw. But the duo’s inclusion for the first two Test matches at least seems unlikely due to the United Kingdom government’s COVID-19 restrictions and norms.
India have two reserve openers in place in the form of Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul. Already the management has hinted that they will go with Agarwal for the first few Test matches at least.
Here is India’s predicted XI for the first Test match against England:
Openers: Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul
After Mayank Agarwal was concussed by a Mohammed Siraj delivery in the nets, KL Rahul is all set to partner Rohit Sharma at the top in Trent Bridge for the first Test match against England. With a strong average at home and compact technique, Rahul has the right ingredients to succeed at the top against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. During the last Test series against England in 2018, Rahul scored a hundred and played well with Pant in Southampton.
Meanwhile, Rohit would look to score some brisk runs and put England’s bowlers off their lengths. Although the 34-year-old has not been experienced in England when it comes to the red-ball format, his calming influence at the top is enough for India.
Middle-order and wicketkeeper: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Rishabh Pant
India might go with the same set of batters as they used for WTC final against the Kiwis with Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Rishabh Pant occupying 3, 4, 5, and 6 positions respectively. Pujara will yet again be the key for India as his staying at one end allows the other batters to bat freely. Although the right-hand batter is not in good form recently, he still is a key opposition wicket for all the top teams.
Skipper Virat Kohli will again be the crucial wicket for England, as last time he scored over 600 runs and allowed India to post a good total. Rahane and Pant will as usual look to bat aggressively and help the team add crucial runs. innings. While Rahane’s overseas records is good, Pant will look to take the attack to the opposition and look to play his strokes at any given circumstances.
All-rounders: Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja
The spin twins lend the much-needed support to the batting and provide India the assurance in the lower order. It is a known fact that India’s tail-enders are not good at batting and over the years, the lower-order batters have failed to get going. But with Ashwin and Jadeja, India has solid batting options in those slots. Both have good track records in the overseas Tests too and will look to lend solidarity, by adding some handy runs lower down the order.
Apart from batting, they are great spin bowlers on any pitch and in any conditions. While Ashwin thrives in bowling to left-handers, Jadeja is good at keeping things tight and accurate.
Bowlers: Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, and Jasprit Bumrah
The trio that played the WTC final will play the first Test match against England, as they bring a lot of experience along with them. All the three bowlers are genuine wicket-takers and can change the complexion of the match quickly by taking crucial wickets with the new as well as the old ball.
Shami can swing the ball both ways and is especially dangerous with the old ball. Meanwhile, Bumrah is known to have a good seam movement and extract it by hitting good line and lengths. Although the trio is not known to be genuine swing bowlers, they are good in mixing their line and lengths by keeping things accurate.
India’s Predicted XI for the first Test match against England: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah