The Indian selectors and team management have a tough task ahead of them to choose the playing XI for the first Test. With some of the senior players back in contention, a few youngsters who have performed admirably might have to make way.
In a recent edition of the Star Sports show Game Plan, Gautam Gambhir was asked about the number of bowlers India should field in their playing XI.
The former Indian opener responded by stating that India should definitely go in with a five-pronged bowling attack. He reasoned Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin, who would bat at No. 7 and No. 8 respectively, are capable of wielding the willow.
“Five bowlers, hundred percent. I have always been a firm believer that India has to go in with five bowlers in any condition. So, probably Axar bats at No.7, it is a direct swap between Jadeja and Axar, Ashwin at No.8. Ashwin will be really confident after what he did at the SCG, Axar can contribute with the bat. So, India needs about 350-odd runs and they have got the bowling attack to get England out,” said Gautam Gambhir.
Gautam Gambhir was also asked about Jasprit Bumrah playing his first Test match at home. He replied that he would rest the speedster after playing him in the first Test and bring him back into the playing XI for the day-night Test in Ahmedabad.
“I would start with Jasprit Bumrah for the first Test match. I am going to give him a break for the second and then play him in the pink-ball Test match,” observed Gambhir.
Gautam Gambhir shared his preferred Indian playing XI. He opted to play Mohammed Siraj ahead of old warhorse Ishant Sharma.
“Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj,” chose Gambhir.
India’s Playing XI for 1st Test(imo):
Question is about 2 spots depending on combination + pitch.
What’s your XI?
*Eng have huge weakness vs left arm spin. #INDvENG
— Wasim Jaffer (@WasimJaffer14) January 31, 2021
Gautam Gambhir was asked about Mayank Agarwal missing out after scoring a mountain of runs in India’s last home season.
The southpaw acknowledged the Karnataka opener might be slightly unlucky after an excellent start to his Test career, but said that he will have to bide his time for now.
“This is what sport is and this is what life is. If you don’t start well and give an opportunity to someone else and that person performs so well, then you will have to wait for your turn. No doubt, Mayank made tons and tons of runs when he got a chance to play international cricket and did well in India also,” said Gambhir.
Gautam Gambhir highlighted that Shubman Gill has moved ahead of Agarwal in the pecking order after his pleasing knocks in Australia. However, he added that the latter would certainly be kept in the Indian team as a backup opener.
“But when he went to Australia, he did not start well. Shubman Gill played with him and he did well. So, now you will have to wait for your turn. And I am sure the team management will not overlook him that quickly. They will keep him with the squad,” concluded Gambhir.
Mayank Agarwal amassed 597 runs in the five Test matches he played in India’s last home season at a Bradmanesque average of 99.50.
But he seemed out of sorts in the recent Test series against Australia and lost his place as an opener after Rohit Sharma joined the squad.
He will hope to resolve the technical issues in his game and earn his spot in the Indian team back at the earliest.
Mayank Agarwal has just had one bad series. He’s still the second highest run getter for India in the last two years. Hope he gets another chance to redeem himself. He’s too good a player to miss out. Wishing @mayankcricket to prove all his naysayers wrong. Olledagli, Mayank. pic.twitter.com/SRwa3BJKzP
— ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಣೇಶ್ | Dodda Ganesh (@doddaganesha) January 23, 2021