The World Test Championship cycle 2 to commence tomorrow as England and India lock horns for a five test match series.
India’s injury bulletin list is getting bigger with the match day nearing, started with opener Gill missing out and then Avesh and Sundar both getting injured during the practise game, Virat Kohli had a stiff back and Ajinkya Rahane had a mild swelling around his left upper hamstring. Yesterday Mayank Agarwal was ruled out of the 1st test match with concussion. Apart form this Rishabh Pant had tested positive who’s now recovered and is with the squad, a couple of support staff and 2 players Wriddhiman Saha and Abhimanyu Easwaran as close contacts were in 10 days isolation missing practise sessions and the practise game. So, hasn’t been quite a good start off field but all in the team are now health and fit, replacements will reach tonight.
Prithvi Shaw and Suryakumar Yadav are off to England and after serving a mandatory 10 day isolation will join the squad that’s unlikely to be changed and will be available for selection after the second test or say days before the 3rd test so, in England conditions and just coming out of 2 long quarantines how early will they step on we’ll have to wait and watch, they’ll get enough practise by the 4th test and will then be match ready.
First things first, India need to pick an opener alongside Rohit Sharma as Mayank Agarwal is ruled out of the first test will it be KL Rahul or will Abhimanyu Easwaran be handed his test cap, will be intresting to see the team management’s pick as they were unhappy with Abhimanyu in the nets and might opt for KL Rahul having left with no other option.
Middle order not a lot to change in names but intent is asked to so, expect that from Pujara and Rahane. Virat and Rishabh will have vital roles to play, Virat on how long can he manage the show being an ever threat and Pant with the lower middle order and tail how much can he add to the tally.
Lower middle order will again be an intresting pick for India will they opt for two spinners and 3 pacers or go with a spinner and 4 pacers. India are already missing a opener and so might wish to play 4 pacers and a spinner but maybe after this test as there is uncertainty in batting so safe to have an extra batter in Jadeja and go with 3 pacers and Ashwin. With weather conditions India might take a risk and might drop a spinner and play Siraj in the XI.
England don’t have a lot to think on, with Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer missing out they’ll play both Broad and Anderson to start off the test series with maybe Mark Wood for extra pace as the 3rd pace bowler. Sam Curran a pace all-rounder will walk in for Ben Stokes, spinner Jack Leach might be in the XI with 3 swing bowlers and pacer Mark Wood not to forget Joe Root too can spin a few, if Leach is not picked it will be Ollie Robinson who’s been impressive and cause trouble to India with that extra height or say high arm release. Opening for England will be the only concern with Sibley who’s not made big runs and Haseeb Hammed who’s just scored a century against India in the practise game would be a only big possible change.
England’s major concern have been with the bat for quite sometime now, a few senior men return that should make Joe Root comfortable and will hope to put up a good show. The middle order has often looked unsettled with Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence who have had few good cameos and not innings they’ll look to convert those with guidance of experienced men from the other end.
England’s strength always has been their bowling especially with Broad and Anderson leading the attack with a pace all-rounder. Same story this time England’s bowling there’s enough to trap India but the batting has to click to win matches and good consistent 300-350’s would feel work done for both sides but a 300 would be work done for England with the variety in bowling.
The 1st test will be played in Nottingham and expect a good green pitch, the weather conditions not very promising but there should be good play everyday. A day before the game looking at the weather for the next 5 days is not at all promising but it might change. Tomorrow for the opening day the weather is very promising, bit of cloud cover and sunshine. Fingers crossed that rain doesn’t play a spoil sport in this cracker of a series.
An action packed series is what England and India always brings to the table, expect the same.