The Indian Test squad for the first three Tests against England was received with widespread awe for the selectors had shed their inhibitions and chosen a squad using their brains rather than their hearts. In the past, the selectors have been guilty of persisting with tried and tested options or going by performances in the ODI format rather than First-class cricket, but this time around MSK Prasad and co got it just about right with their team selection.

Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a vital component of India's Test bowling attack, will be picked based on his lower back condition which the medical staff is monitoring.

But have the selectors got it all right? In the following analysis, we will go through all the departments and the options India have in each of them.


India have their regular three openers in the squad with Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul making it to the final 18. Rahul and Vijay are the incumbents in the Test arena but Dhawan's form and ability to dominate attacks could see him being included at the expense of either of the two. India could also go left-field and play all three of them, with Pujara going down to no.4 and Kohli to no.5, which also solves their middle-order conundrum.

In the middle-order, India have options aplenty. Rohit Sharma, who was a controversial pick in South Africa, remains left out as was in the squad for the Afghanistan Test. Karun Nair is the back-up batsman with the reserve keeper, Rishabh Pant, also capable of filling in if required.


With Wriddhiman Saha injured, India have opted to trust Dinesh Karthik as their first-choice keeper, thus ending the Parthiv Patel experiment in South Africa. Karthik is already in the country with the ODI squad and would have gotten used to the conditions by now. Keeping, though, could be a different proposition and the Tamil Nadu glovesman will need to use the warm-up games to get used to the bounce on English wickets.

In a bold move, the selectors opted to pick Rishabh Pant as the back-up keeper ahead of Parthiv Patel. The aggressive southpaw is pretty used to the conditions having been with the India A squad for a month. Pant could also be considered as a back-up option in the batting department. In a long tour such as this, injuries are common place and Pant could be required to make a debut sooner than he possibly thinks.

All-rounders and spinners

It is interesting to note how India have stuck to the one seam bowling all-rounder, Hardik Pandya. They had Vijay Shankar available if needed but chose to spice up their pace department with an additional seamer while trusting Pandya with the role at no.7, where he impressed in bits and pieces in the South African tour. Pandya might need to do a lot more bowling if he is zeroed in at no.7 in a team of two pacers and two spinners.

As suspected, Kuldeep Yadav makes the cut for his wicket-taking abilities which came to the fore in the limited-overs leg of this tour. Kuldeep could be vying for a spot in the final XI with Ravindra Jadeja or Hardik Pandya depending on what combination India choose. Ashwin should be the no.1 spinner in the side given his improved showing in the Rainbow Nation but he will be watched keenly particularly if Kuldeep continues his stupendous run in the longer format.

Both Ashwin and Jadeja spice up the batting unlike Kuldeep but India might still want to squeeze in Kuldeep in there given how the hosts struggled to pick him. England's Test team is also vastly different from their ODI outfit which means several of them could be facing the chinaman for the first time if he plays.

Fast bowling

India have packed their squad with five pace bowlers with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (subject to fitness) being a sixth option. Jasprit Bumrah, picked in the squad, won't be available for the first Test and is doubtful for the second while Bhuvneshwar is almost certain to miss the first Test at the least.

This shortens the arsenal of pace bowlers considerably which is possibly why someone like Shardul Thakur finds himself in. Thakur has been a consistent performer in the Ranji Trophy and is a preferred choice. However, Rajneesh Gurbani, a geuine swing bowler, is in-form and available in England, and the selectors probably missed a trick by not picking the Vidarbha bowler.

Ishant Sharma is likely to spearhead the attack in the absence of Bhuvneshwar with Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami backing him up. Hardik Pandya’s seam up adds further firepower to the pace department.