A dive into India’s Test squad
India has got plenty of depth in every department ahead of the five-match long Test series against England. While Virat Kohli and the team the management have plenty to choose from, we give you a brief insight on every member of the 18-man squad.
Murali Vijay couldn’t get runs under his belt against the England Lions but warmed up with a composed 53 against Essex in the only practice match ahead of the 1st Test. He is likely to keep his place at the top, but Vijay has also made it clear that he is willing to bat at any position if the team wants him to.
Shikhar Dhawan scored a breathtaking ton against Afghanistan in India’s last Test but the explosive left-hander hasn’t been in the best of forms leading to the England Tests. The Delhi born opener got out for a duck in both innings against Essex but Virat Kohli has shown immense trust in this ‘match-winner.’
Cheteshwar Pujara had two stints in England. One before the Afghanistan Test where he scored a 101 and a 75* for Yorkshire. He managed only 35 against Afghanistan and had a below-par second stint managing only 72 runs in 5 outings. He scored 1 and 23 during his two opportunities against Essex but is a critical player for the Indian team at number 3. Virat Kohli will be hoping for his run-machine to weather the new ball when the time comes against the likes of James Anderson and Co.
He has scored runs around the globe in the whites barring the isles of England. Kohli had a horrendous tour of England in 2014 but this time when he walks out, he will be transformed man. Kohli has come a long way since the previous tour and will be hoping to prove a point to his critics by scoring runs in bulk. He scored a boundary-laden 68 against Essex and looks in sublime touch ahead of the Edgbaston Test.
Ajinkya Rahane, often regarded as India’s crisis man, will have a huge role to play in the middle order. Rahane scored 49 and 48 against the England Lions and got out for 17 in the practice game before being unbeaten on 19 in the second innings. The Indian vice-captain has the flair and technique to bat with the lower middle order and will be key to their chances against England.
KL Rahul is probably in the form of his life. He has scored heavy runs wherever he has played and the team management will be itching to field him in the first Test. His batting position still remains a mystery but Rahul was seen opening the batting in the second innings of the warm-up tie against Essex scoring 36* after a handy 58 in the first innings.
Karun Nair scored a fantastic triple hundred against England back in India but lost his place after dismal performances. He managed 210 runs playing for India ‘A’ against the Windies ‘A’ but could manage only 21 runs in his next 4 innings including the fixture against Essex.
Wriddhiman Saha’s injury means that Dinesh Karthik becomes India’s first choice wicketkeeper in England. The Tamil Nadu batsman has been in prolific form and warmed up with a scintillating 82-run knock against Essex at Chelmsford.
Rishabh Pant has earned a maiden call-up to the Indian Test side after fine performances with the ‘A’ team in England. Fans in India have already started to compare him with Adam Gilchrist in the whites. It will be interesting to see if he gets a chance in England.
In just over a year, Hardik Pandya has become India’s premier all-rounder in all three formats. This will be an opportunity for him to do justice to his all-round abilities. Hardik has the capability to turn the game on its head. Apart from his hard-hitting skills, Hardik will have a major role to play with the ball as well.
Ravindra Jadeja’s flat, slow left-arm spin can be deceiving on English soil. Apart from being handy with the ball, Jadeja is good batsman too. His counter-attacking knock in 2014 at Lord’s enabled India to post a target beyond England’s reach and the Saurashtra born all-rounder will be hoping to recreate his magic on this tour as well.
Primarily a bowling all-rounder, Ravichandran Ashwin, has been India’s best bowler for a while now in the longest format. However, his overseas records don’t do justice to what he is capable of so the right-arm off-spinner will be eyeing to put in a strong performance when he gets an opportunity in England.
Jasprit Bumrah has returned to training but will be available for selection only post the 1st Test. Bumrah had a splendid debut series against South Africa and will be one of Virat Kohli’s key weapons in this long tour.
Ishant Sharma is seen as the leader of this pack. The seasoned campaigner spent plenty of time in the county circuit and has the right kind of form behind him leading up to this tour. He also picked three wickets against Essex.
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah both unavailable for the first Test, Umesh Yadav may see himself sharing the new ball with Ishant Sharma. Yadav will be looking to carry his limited overs form to red-ball cricket too. Yadav was the pick of the bowlers, claiming 4 Essex wickets at Chelmsford.
Shardul Thakur bowled 13 overs in the warm-up game and will be a valuable addition to a team in conditions conducive to seam bowling. Only time will tell if Shardul will be able to replicate his domestic form at the highest level with the Duke ball.
Mohammed Shami went wicketless on his return against Essex and has been dealing with fitness issues in the past. Shami has the reputation of causing troubles with his reverse swing which will play a big part in England.
Kuldeep Yadav was India’s star performer in the limited overs leg against England. Most of the English batsmen had a difficult time reading him. Virat Kohli will be very tempted to play him in the Tests but Kuldeep will tussle for a spot in the team with the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja.