Indian squad selection vs England: What to expect?

Nitin Fernandes 15:44 01/11/2016
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KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan are unlikely to be fit for the first Test.

The Indian selectors are all set to sit down and select the squad that will take on England in the first Test of their five-match series.

India, led by Virat Kohli, might be the Np. 1 team in the world, but there are some questions that remain and those will be answered tomorrow once the India selectors, led by MSK Prasad, announce the squad.

ISHANT SHARMA TO RETURN

Indian pace spearhead Ishant Sharma is likely to make a comeback into the Indian Test team after missing the three Tests against New Zealand due to illness. The 28-year-old played two Ranji Trophy matches in October, managing to pick up five wickets in three innings.

Although the Indian pacers did a good job in the New Zealand series, Ishant’s return will be a big boost for the hosts. The Delhi fast bowler, at 23, is the highest-ranked Indian pacer on the ICC Test Rankings.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar missed the third Test against the Blackcaps due to an injury and will most likely not make the squad, with Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav expected to join Ishant as the pace bowlers.

OPENERS DILEMMA

There was a lot of debate before the start of the New Zealand series regarding the openers slots with Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan all in the running to open for India.

Injuries to Rahul and Dhawan unexpectedly opened the door for veteran opening batsman Gautam Gambhir and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. In the third Test against the Kiwis, Gambhir notched up a valuable half-century as India went on to win the series 3-0.

If Rahul is fit, he is likely to be picked along side Vijay and Gambhir in the squad. But since he injured his hamstring in the first Test against New Zealand at Kanpur, the Karnataka opener hasn’t played any form of cricket.

With Dhawan in the same boat as Rahul, expect both to miss out and someone like Karun Nair to be included in the squad with Cheteshwar Pujara used as an opener in case of an emergency.

Yuvraj Singh is unlikely to make the squad despite his superb form in the Ranji Trophy.

HOW MANY SPINNERS WILL INDIA WANT?

Let’s face it, everyone knows what kind of pitches we can expect when England come visiting to India this month. The tracks will be on the slower side, with a lot of assistance for the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

With Ashwin and Jadeja comfortably the two best spinners in the Indian Test side, it’ll be interesting to see if the selectors decide to pick three or four spinners in the squad.

In the final Test against New Zealand, the selectors had decided to include Jayant Yadav in the squad and with Amit Mishra already there, it meant that Virat Kohli had four spin bowlers to pick from. In the end, Kohli decided to play two spinners with Mishra and Yadav warming the bench.

England’s struggles against spin in Bangladesh, though, might tempt the Indian think-tank into playing three spinners at Rajkot.

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