India and England have achieved stellar success in their respective recent Test series’ and now banking on that confidence, both teams will lock horns against each other in the first Test at Chennai from 5 February. Although both teams have won their previous Test series, the road ahead isn’t that smooth, and the biggest challenge probably for the teams is to pick their playing XIs for the IND vs ENG Test.
Here, we look at available options and predict the playing XIs for the India vs England Test series.
In the last Test, India virtually played all men who were fit and available in their playing XI as they had few options available. Things haven’t changed drastically, but it seems the management will face an exact opposite situation now as there are options available now.
Virat Kohli is back and he will occupy one place in the middle-order. Hardik Pandya is in the squad but India might not play him as he is currently only a batsman. There is no way Rishabh Pant can be left out. The only question is whether he plays as a batsman alone or as a wicket-keeper. Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul are certain to warm the benches.
In bowling, R Ashwin is the spearhead of spin department. The management will have to choose his partner. Washington Sundar has made a strong claim but two off-spinners could make the bowling one-dimensional. The other option is of Axar Patel who ticks all boxes and is a strong contender. Kuldeep Yadav is in the contention as well.
The pace bowling department will see the return of Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma which means no pacer from the historic Gabba Test would feature in this game.
India’s probable playing XI: S Gill, R Sharma, C Pujara, V Kohli, A Rahane, R Pant, W Sundar, R Ashwin, K Yadav, I Sharma, J Bumrah.
England has plenty of options for individual places. However, things somehow don’t go well when these individuals become a team. Joe Root’s form is a massive plus while Dom Sibley and J Buttler have shown they can be relied upon. Questions still loom over Rory Burns’ place in the team. England expects O Pope and M Ali to be available for this Test which means their middle-order is more stable as Ben Stokes is already there to strengthen it.
James Anderson would lead the pace bowling attack with J Archer whose nasty pace could be England’s X factor. D Bess and J Leach would handle the spin department.
England’s playing XI: R Burns, Z Crawley, D Sibley, J Root, B Stokes, M Ali, J Buttler, D Bess, J Archer, J Anderson, J Leach
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