Indian Team’s Selection Hurdles ahead of 1st Test

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Modified Dec 25, 2021 12:49 AM IST

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The Indian Team is gearing up for another away series, in a nation where they have not won a Test series yet. Like the Australia series, India is once again hit with some injuries. They will be without Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. For now, India has five certain starters unless there is a sudden injury. KL Rahul, and Mayank Agarwal are settled at the top, while Jasprit Bumrah, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant are other certainties. Mohammad Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin are near starters, depending on the team combination.

Below are a few questions India will have to look at ahead of Boxing day

1.Bowling composition

Since Melbourne, The Indian Team has been sticking to a five-bowler strategy away from home, with Ravindra Jadeja playing the role of a spin-bowling all-rounder. This time, he isn’t a part of the squad. Ravichandran Ashwin has been on the sidelines through England, as India went with the batting strength of Jadeja, despite Ashwin’s bowling form. Ravichandran Ashwin has been a better batter though this year, with some crucial knocks, such as his effort in Sydney.

If India feels like Ashwin’s batting could hold fort, the Indian Team could back him, and play their best spinner in the first Test. Along with Ashwin, Thakur could be present to help the batting line-up, while also allowing India to play five quality bowlers.

2. The Middle-order Puzzle

Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t been in good form and is back in the country where he first made a name for himself with a spectacular 96 in Durban, back in 2013. His form is a concern, and Rahane has recently lost his Test vice-captaincy as well, indicating that he may not be a certain starter. With Vihari, and Iyer on his heels, Rahane has some tough competition, and could only make it if the Indian team feels like they need his experience.

The next debate is between Vihari and Iyer. Shreyas Iyer made a fantastic debut, but his technique against the short ball is a question. Hanuma Vihari has been in South Africa for a while, having played the A-series, and did a decent job adjusting to the conditions. He is a specialist for the Indian Team in overseas Tests and played a series-defining innings last time he turned out in whites. With just one spot likely on offer, the three batters will have some competition ahead of the first Test.

3. The Fast bowling options

The Indian Team used four pacers in England and found success. They have a wide range of pace options to pick from, with nearly six bowlers as their options. Of the six, Bumrah and Shami seem fixed. With his batting ability, Shardul Thakur could be another choice. The fourth pace option will then be a toss-up between Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammad Siraj. Siraj’s aggression and recent form may give him the advantage, as he will likely play his first Test in South Africa.

After success in England, India is likely to go with a four-one option, and use Ashwin as the lone-spinner. There is a possibility of leaving Shardul Thakur out and playing an extra batter, but that seems unlikely.