India Must Get Their Combination Right
Let’s dig deep here and find out a few possible team combination
NOTTINGHAM: In the East Midlands of the United Kingdom, Nottingham is a very quiet and laid-back city. With its medieval structured buildings, Trent river, rich heritage surrounding foods and drinks as well as the Robin hood folklore; the city is a perfect relaxing place, if someone wants get away from the hustle and bustle of London, Manchester, Birmingham or any other prime centre of the country.
Well, unfortunately for the Indian cricket team, which is currently 0-2 down in the ongoing five-Test series, this time the stay in Nottingham is not going to be relaxing at all. With the third test starting, the Virat Kohli’s boys need to do something extraordinary in order to bounce back in the series. And for that, they have to get their team combination right, unlike what we have experienced in away Test matches in the recent past.
Let’s dig deep here and find out a few possible team combinations which India might opt for in this do-or-die fixture.
Should India continue with Murali Vijay and KL Rahul?
Let’s get one thing straight, Murali Vijay is well past his prime. Earlier, timing and the sense of his off-stump used to be the key of his batsmanship. As an opening batsman, he used to leave a lot of balls outside off-stump. However, these days it seems he has lost his Midas touch, especially in testing conditions. In his six knocks in South Africa, Vijay did not get a half-century and on this tour of England, he has 26 runs in four innings. In fact, at Lord’s he bagged a pair, getting out to James Anderson in both innings.
However, it seems in Nottingham the team management will give Vijay another chance. He is most likely to open the innings alongside Shikhar Dhawan, who was dropped at Lord’s. Whereas KL Rahul, who has had four failures (4, 13, 8 and 10 in his respective four knocks) with bat in this series so far, will only be considered if India decide to play an extra batsman. But if Rahul plays, he will bat lower down the order.
Match-fit Jasprit Bumrah likely to return
From his intensity during India’s practice session at the Trent Bridge ground on Thursday (August 16), it seems Jasprit Bumrah is match fit. And in that case, India will play him in place of Kuldeep Yadav. At Trent Bridge there is always some swing and seam around for the fast bowlers both in the air and of the pitch. Also, during the first two days of the Test match, we are expecting some cloud cover. Hence, it will a perfect condition to play three mainstream seamers.
Ravichandran Ashwin or Hardik Pandya
If Bumrah comes into the XI and India choose to play Rahul as an extra batting option in the middle-order, then either Ravichandran Ashwin or Hardik Pandya has to sit out. Thus far, both have a decent series with both bat and ball. Hence, it will be really harsh if any one of these two misses out from the XI in this crucial fixture just because the think-tank feels the urge of adding more security in the struggling batting department.
However, if it comes to this scenario, the author feels India should go ahead with Ashwin, considering his recent performance on non-helpful tracks and keeping in mind the number of left-handers in the English line-up. Furthermore, with three front-line pacers in the XI, Pandya’s utility as a seamer will be significantly lesser and with bat he hasn’t been force either. So, instead of an extra pace-bowling all-rounder, India should add variety in their attack and play Ashwin.
Rishabh Pant’s possible debut
After back-to-back failures of Dinesh Karthik with bat in hand, India have no option but to try out youngster Rishabh Pant, the second-choice wicketkeeper-batsman in the squad. The 20-year old is coming off an excellent series with the India A side in the UK. So, his recent experience of playing with the Duke ball will be handy. The southpaw is an attacking batsman and has a First-Class strike-rate of 95.24. Down the order, Pant has the ability of playing with the tail and get some quick runs, if needed.
Virat Kohli’s fitness concerns
The back stiffness which skipper Kohli sustained during the Lord’s Test is unlikely to hamper his participation in this game. Though still there are concerns, but head-coach Ravi Shastri has assured the press on Thursday that he is recovering well and feeling much better.
Nevertheless, this is high time for India to pick the right set of players who can deliver in this crunch situation. Remember, if they lose this game at Trent Bridge, the series as well as the confidence level of the team will be gone and a white-wash may seem inevitable.