WTC Final: Team India announced their playing eleven for the World Test Championship finale that is slated to start in less than 24 hours at Southampton. They resorted to their strongest playing eleven instead of going for a surprise in Mohammad Siraj that could have been carved a significant impact and would have been the crux of countless deliberations in the forthcoming days.
The playing XI included the likes of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill to open the innings. The middle-order was daubed with the cream of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja. As the nation enraged in a discourse between Ashwin and Siraj, Team India chose to opt for their experienced off-spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin ahead of Mohammad Siraj. The remaining two bowlers were Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.
The reason Mohammad Siraj was in the thick of discussions was because of his ability to swing the ball in both ways. Southampton is one such surface that is extremely conducive to swing bowlers. Given India’s dearth of prolific bowlers who can drift the ball, Siraj seemed like a striking prospect.
Of course his debarring from the playing eleven didn’t really sit well with many and begged a lot of questions about why was he axed from the playing eleven against New Zealand wherein he could have been a possible game-changer.
Despite the Southampton surface being a boon to pacers who can make their seam movement count, it is also one of those rare surfaces in England that aid the spinners. Given the overcast conditions and the gloomy weather predictions in the forthcoming days, the surface was tipped to produce some spin that would come in handy for both sides.
Ravichandran Ashwin hasn’t particularly been at the top of his form overseas until recently where he played a defining role against Australia Down Under. His incursion against the English batting line-up was equally impressive despite being in India’s backyard.
Even though the surface won’t really be a tornado-brewing one, it would still assist the spinners, given the inclement weather conditions. With Jadeja being chosen for his all-round role, Ashwin will primarily be seen as the off-spinner who can be a significant bane to the Kiwi batters.
The inclusion of Ashwin will also help India to have an additional batting option in the number eight position that can add valuable 30-40 runs. In need of a partnership towards the end, Ashwin can also hang in the middle, a feat that he has already posted in Australia saving the blushes of an impending defeat from absolutely inhuman conditions.
His expertise will also allow him to test a variety of options on batters like Williamson and Taylor who can be extremely dangerous if they get their eyes in.
Despite the fact that Siraj could have tipped the scales significantly both in sublime and inadvertent ways, India practiced caution over belligerence to challenge for the throne.
India’s Playing XI for the WTC Final:
India’s batting line-up really looks feisty wherein they will have the likes of a brave Shubman Gill who has exhibited exemplary batting in overseas conditions and is the only batsman in the Indian batting line-up with immunity against drastic swinging conditions. His patience at the beginning of the innings is what makes him an x-factor for the Indian side.
Kohli, Rahane and Pujara will be the major game-changers in the WTC final if India is to challenge for the mantle. These three batsmen can actually go the distance and will be the best contenders for a substantial figure with a potential 150 plus score. Pant has been an influential moniker in the Indian batting order, given his scintillating showdowns in the recent past. His aggression will come in handy with a late blitzkrieg from Ravindra Jadeja if the situation demands so.
Ashwin will be a crucial name in terms of batting as well as his selection in the squad could have most likely been propelled by his late batting finesse. The remaining tail that India has can be cleaned up in a matter of seconds. However, they have been particularly onboarded to wreak havoc with the cherry in their hand. Shami is currently one of the best producers of reverse swing not just in the Indian echelons but across the face of the entire planet. Bumrah will definitely be the man to watch out for with his brutal toe-crushers and bouncers. In case of a heavy downpour, the surface will tend to be skidding and heavy that will act as a Promised Land for Bumrah’s brutal pace. Needless to say, Ishant Sharma will be India’s best bet to bedevil Taylor and Williamson in the pursuit of the crown.