The highs of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy are yet to pass, but cricketing action involving the Indian cricket team is already on the horizon. Captain Virat Kohli returns to the side as they take on England in a 4-Test home series starting on the 5th of February.
A few first-choice stars – Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami – are set to miss the series due to injuries. The Indian squad features many fresh faces like Washington Sundar and Axar Patel, while Jasprit Bumrah is all set to play his first home Test.
India’s squad for the 4-Test series against England: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur
We’ve seen many cricketers establish their spots in the Indian team with performances at home. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan scored whirlwind tons on their respective Test debuts, while Prithvi Shaw accomplished the same feat only a couple of years ago.
The upcoming series against England could see these 3 Indian cricket team stars become permanent fixtures of the first-choice Test XI.
Shardul Thakur has played only two (effectively one) Tests in his career, but he’s very close to becoming a permanent member of the squad in all formats. It’s no secret that India are short of all-rounders, especially of the pace-bowling variety.
Thakur’s batting is an extremely promising proposition, as he demonstrated in the historic Gabba Test. He has also been able to swing the ball prodigiously at any stage of the innings, when even experienced Indian bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah have struggled to find purchase.
Thakur would add great balance to the Test team as the third seamer batting at No. 9. India experienced the benefits of having a long, fighting tail in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and the Mumbai-born bowler seems to be the perfect fit for this side.
Mohammed Siraj’s splendid performance in his debut series might have put him slightly ahead in the pecking order as far as the role of the third seamer is concerned. But if the team management wants to beef up the batting order in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja, Thakur could get the nod.
And with a strong showing or two, he could make that place his own.
Rishabh Pant has been criticised and maligned beyond belief, but he took a massive step towards winning over Indian fans with his stellar knocks in the Australia Tests.
The young keeper had his back firmly against the wall entering the series – he wasn’t part of the white-ball squads and Wriddhiman Saha was preferred in the 1st Test. However, a couple of match-winning (or match-saving) fifties later, Pant is on the cusp of finally sealing the keeper’s slot in Tests.
Saha might still be chosen to don the gloves, but it has now become impossible to drop Pant – at the very least, he will play as a specialist batsman.
The 23-year-old has played two Test innings in India, and has twin scores of 92 to show for. With another couple of innings (and if the opportunity presents itself, strong outings behind the stumps), Pant could put his spot in the team beyond doubt.
Undoubtedly the find of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Shubman Gill impressed all with his clarity of thought, composure and sheer class.
The young Punjab batsman seemed completely at home at the international level. And after replacing the out-of-form Mayank Agarwal, he ensured that he’ll be in the playing XI for the 1st Test against England.
Gill has it all to succeed at the highest stage, and he’s known to be an accomplished player of spin. He should be right at home, both literally and figuratively, in the upcoming series. His first-class average was in the 70s before the start of the Australia series, and he knows what it takes to pile on big scores in the subcontient.
India finally had decent overseas opening stands with Rohit and Gill in Australia, and the solid combination looks set to continue.