India’s probable playing XI for first Test match against England

This could be a now or never series for Cheteshwar Pujara.

Saurabh Ganguly Author

Updated - 2 August 2021 4:58 pm

Post a little over a month-long break from international cricket, Virat Kohli-led India is ready for Test match action. They will be up against England for a five-match Test series, commencing August 4. The first of the five matches is set to be played at Trent Bridge. Although the team has played some Test cricket over the last few years and have a fairly settled unit, injury to some of their key players might have put the think tank in a kind of fix as they sit out the decide the XI for the first Test.

This will also mark the beginning of the 2021-23 Test Championship Cycle and either team would want to leave a mark straight away, eying a top-two finish to qualify for the final in 2023. Prior to the opening match of the series, here is a look at what can be the possible XI for Team India when Kohli comes for the toss on Wednesday.

Top Order- Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara

While Rohit Sharma's place as an opener is secured, there are some questions over who will his opening partner be owing to the injury of Shubman Gill. Mayank Agarwal is likely to be that man. This is because while the team has the likes of KL Rahul, who scored a hundred in the warm-up match on the tour, he is primarily being looked at as a middle-order replacement. Moreover, Mayank had a good run with Rohit at the top and deserves a second chance in the national team.

At number 3, this could be a now or never series for Cheteshwar Pujara. He hasn't done too well in the recent past and disappointed yet again in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. However, given his contribution to Indian cricket and what he is capable of, Pujara is likely to be stuck for all five matches.

Middle-order- Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin

The middle order's contribution will be equally important and it will be led by none other than captain Virat Kohli. This could well be the series where fans get to witness the end of a long drought of an international hundred from the bat of Kohli. His form could be the deciding factor of the series and if the Kohli of 2018 turns up yet again, this could well be a memorable tour for India but if the ghosts of 2014 haunt him again, India will sense trouble. Following him will be vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, who will have happy memories of that hundred at Lord's. Can he score a few more of those in England this time around? will be the big question.

Rishabh Pant has recovered from Coronavirus and is the X-factor in the Indian lineup. With his heroics in Australia, fans are expecting a similar show on this tour and if he can match that, there is every reason to believe that Team India will beat England in England. If there is just one spot for a spinner in the team, it will be Ravichandran Ashwin. However, he will have to make some runs with the bat. A show like the match-saving innings in Australia could also prove to be an equally important one, apart from his primary job of spinning a web around the English batters.

Bowlers- Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma

India will try and learn from their mistakes in the WTC final and might go ahead with four pacers in the unit. Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Ishant Sharma are likely to be the four of those. While all eyes will be on Jasprit Bumrah, who seems to be going through a lean patch, this could well be the summer of Shami. He has done remarkably well in recent times and was also the pick of the bowlers in the lost summit clash against New Zealand in June. Along with them will be Siraj and Sharma, a good mix of experience and youth and it could be a delight watching all of them bowl in tandem in seam friendly English conditions.

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