After a disappointing World Test Championship Final for India, all the focus will be on the five-match Test series between India and England. The five-match Test series which also kicks off the next round of the World Test Championship starts on the 4th of August at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. The last time India toured England for a five-match Test series, they lost the series 4-1.
With a great win in Australia, earlier this year, hopes will be high on the Indian team to win at least 2 Tests if not more. The team will start practising in Durham in a couple of days, as the captain and the management needs to decide India’s strongest playing XI for the first Test. Who will open in the absence of Shubman Gill, and should Mohammed Siraj make India’s playing XI? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. So, let us have a look at predicted India’s strongest playing XI for the first Test against England.
Openers – Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal would be the first-choice opener to replace Shubman Gill in India’s playing XI, as Gill has been ruled out of the series and is most probably travelling back to India. Rohit Sharma has been brilliant as an opener in the last two years and it would be a test for him to open in England.
The job of an opener gets difficult in England, as the new ball is extremely crucial. If the openers can play out 15-20 overs against the new ball, it would help the middle-order batsmen to score big. Agarwal will get a chance in India’s playing XI after a while, and he has to make it count.
Middle-order – Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane
There were some questions over Cheteshwar Pujara’s place in India’s playing XI, but it would be better if they stick with him at least for the first couple of matches. He has been terrific for India in the past and if he can get back to his best then the opposition will be in trouble. Virat Kohli was brilliant in 2018 and would look to replicate that form.
Ajinkya Rahane has been on and off with his performances, but when on song he is a great No.5. These three batsmen who have the experience of playing in England will be the key players for India who can set up the innings. If these three-score big, then India would have a good chance to win the series.
Wicket-keeper and all-rounder – Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja
These two left-handers will bring some variety in India’s playing XI, as all the top five are right-handers. Rishabh Pant, who has been brilliant since the Australia tour in December, can be dangerous if he gets going. His wicket-keeping is becoming better, which is a positive sign.
Ravindra Jadeja didn’t do much in the WTC Final, but he is one of the finest all-rounders in the longest format right now, and so has to make the XI. Jadeja can score some crucial runs down the order and bowl some tight overs. He can be lethal if the ball starts turning in the second innings.
Bowlers – R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Ishant Sharma
Three pacers and a spinner is the ideal combination for India’s playing XI, as it becomes a well-balanced attack. Ashwin was brilliant in the WTC Final, even when the pitch had nothing for the spinner. Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma have been the go-to bowlers for Virat Kohli, and so they should be part of the XI.
Mohammed Siraj is in red-hot form, and he is more of a swing bowler as compared to Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah is a hit the deck bowler and in England, you need swing bowlers. If Siraj gets going with his pace and swing he can be dangerous in these English conditions and there are talks to include Siraj in the XI, so it would be a great idea to start with him.