India will face England in the series that decides the 5th Test will be moved on Friday at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham and it will be interesting to see which XI they go through. Captain Rohit Sharma is out with Covid and Jasprit Bumrah has been given the chance to lead the team for the first time. Rishabh Pant becomes the deputy of Bumrah. The Indians are in a stiff position due to another omission, as regular opener KL Rahul is injured. Team management must decide whether to draft in Mayank Agarwal or open with Hanuma Vihari or Cheteshwar Pujara and Shreyas Iyer playing a chance in the middle order.
The bigger question, however, is the decision on the fifth bowling option. Several reports suggest that the field may have something for spinners and in such a situation playing both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja could be an option. But given the way England have been hitting since Brendon McCullum took over as head coach, playing two slow bowlers could backfire. However, India has a 2-1 lead and a defeat won’t be catastrophic, but a win will boost the team’s morale after the 1-2 defeat to South Africa earlier this year. It would also give head coach Rahul Dravid something to show for his efforts over the past 8 months.
This is what we believe will be the ideal playing XI for India
Shubman Gill: Gill must score a century in Test cricket. He knows that and he will be happy to do it on the biggest stage of all. He has played from home several times, but it takes a triple digit to cement his place at the top of the rankings. To do that, he has to curb his shooting instincts, put his head down and save time.
Mayank Agarwal: The brand new dukeball in England talks and that makes life very difficult for batters of the highest order. In such circumstances it is important to open the battle with a specialist and that is why Mayank should get the wink.
Cheteshwar Pujara: If India wants to win or draw this match, Cheteshwar Pujara has to bat long and score points. He hasn’t had a Test century since January 2019 and India needs him now to get one.
Virat Kohli: The former captain of India would like India to win this series as it would be a satisfying end to his legacy as a captain. India had taken a 2-1 lead under him last year. He too is in desperate need of big runs and if his form in the touring match against Leicestershire is anything, Kohli is ready to battle it out against James Anderson and his company.
Hanuma Vihari: The ever reliable Vihari would like to contribute to the cause of the team again. He has been very strong in the middle order and will have to hit the tail well again.
Rishabh Pant: If the bowlers dominate this match, Pant could hold the key with his offensive at bat. If Pant gets down to business with the bat, he could prove to be the difference.
Ravichandran Ashwin: Ashwin has been a much better bowler on away games lately and this is another chance for him to show his value as a match winner.
Shardul Thakur: India needs a long occupation in England and Shardul offers just that. The ability to get the ball off the field will be important.
Mohammed Shami: India’s most consistent bowler has to shoot for the team. While Shami is singing, Joe Root and his buddies enter a competition.
Jasper Bumrah: The captain is given extra responsibility, but Bumrah looks like someone who likes to be in the spotlight. His extra pace will come in handy in taming England’s aggressive at bat.
Mohammed Siraj: He had no suit in the IPL, but Siraj is a different bowler when he plays for India. It would be hard to keep Umesh Yadav out, but Siraj is more consistent with his line and height in tests.