4th Test: Umesh Returns? What India’s Playing XI Could Look Like
The Virat Kohli-led side are 2-1 up in the series and will no doubt look to round things off in style.
Home advantage and playing conditions have been the talk of town in the recent past and one expects the discussions to continue as India and England prepare for the fourth and final Test of the series in Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Well beaten and demoralised, England need a response quickly while India need to keep their opposition down on the mat for a while longer. Dominant in the last couple of Tests against England, the hosts have within their grasp a spot in the final of the World Test Championships against New Zealand.
The Virat Kohli-led side are 2-1 up in the series and will no doubt look to round things off in style. India, without Jasprit Bumrah, are not expected to make too many personnel changes for the fourth Test.
When selecting the playing XI, among the most important points of discussion will be workload management, apart from replacing Bumrah.
Will India go in spin heavy once again or is it time to bring Hardik Pandya back into the fold? Once again expect the top half of the side to pick themselves unless there is an unforeseen incident.
Who Replaces Bumrah?
Never an easy job! Replacing the ace fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah takes some doing and thankfully for India, there’s more than a few hands ready to go up whenever the need arises.
With Umesh Yadav fit and back in the mix, picking the right pace bowling combination becomes a tad bit trickier. Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj are also in the mix and it is unlikely that all three quicks will line-up together.
Considering that Ishant Sharma has played all the three Tests so far in the series and did come back from quite a long injury layoff, the team management might be more inclined to give him a rest, paving the way for the duo of Umesh and Siraj to take the field together, both well-rested and fresh.
That Umesh and Ishant are more hit-the-deck kind of bowlers might be a factor that tips the scales in favour of Siraj, who has the ability to swing the ball both ways.
If recent reports are to be believed about the pitch being a batters paradise, India would likely look for that bit of variety in the pace battery.
Is Umesh ready for action or will Ishant and Siraj get the nod? The think tank will want their freshest and meanest pacers in the park as England look to bounce back.
Ashwin, Axar and Who?
In the Pink Ball Test, Washington Sundar was the third spinner for India, but he bowled only in the second innings. Back to the normal red-ball contest, India are unlikely to move away from the three spinners ploy, especially given how England have struggled against them.
The hosts will no doubt want to continue dominating and will depend on the spinners yet again. With R Ashwin and Axar Patel picking themselves at this point in time, the toss up is between Sundar and Kuldeep Yadav.
For Kohli and Ravi Shastri, this is not going to be an easy decision, however, the chances are that Kuldeep would get the nod, especially because Sundar has not looked very dangerous with the ball in whatever few overs he has got.
Furthermore, once Axar was fit, India were quite quick to bring in Kuldeep in the second Test. Kohli had also explained after the first Test that Kuldeep did not play because it was a case of combinations than trusting abilities.
While Sundar offers more ability with the bat, it is the variety that Kuldeep brings to the fore that could see him get the nod.
Also, against an under-pressure England, it would be the ideal way to get Kuldeep’s confidence back up and running!
Hardik Pandya Returns?
The all-rounder has been putting in the hard yards in training and has been bowling quite a bit in the nets as well. With a T20 World Cup scheduled for later in the year, Hardik is one player India cannot afford to risk and might well keep him away from the rigours of Test cricket for now.
However, Hardik, when bowling which is essential for his selection in the Test team, adds plenty of dynamism to the XI.
But do India need him now – probably not! It’s unlikely that Hardik will play a part in the Test where conditions are expected to aid the spinners and batters.
Predicted Playing XI for India: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Mohd Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav.
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