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IND vs ENG, Anthony de Mello Trophy 2023-24: India's Probable Playing XI for first two Tests

India vs England 2023-24: India's Probable Playing XI for first two Tests, who will replace Virat Kohli at number 4?


WTC Final 2023, AUS vs IND_ India lost WTC Final 2023 to Australia _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©ImHydro45_Twitter)
India vs England 5 match test series to start from January 25 (Images: ©ImHydro45/Twitter)

India will kick off their home season with a five-match Test series against the formidable England side, starting from January 25. The Men in Blue, who have dominated home games, would look to increase their series-win streak to 17 at their den and aim for the top spot in the ICC World Test Championship points table. Notably, since December 18, 2012, India have played 46 matches on their home turf, winning 36, and losing only three, while seven matches resulted in a draw, with a win-loss ratio of 12.000.


The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced India’s squad for the first Tests of the series, including four spinners. Hence, it is expected that the pitches will spin a lot as the game progresses. Apart from the four spinners, three wicket-keepers, including KL Rahul, KS Bharat, and Dhruv Jurel, who received a maiden call-up, are also added to the squad. Keeping KL Rahul’s previous injury in mind, Rohit Sharma and Co. are likely to go with KS Bharat in the first test, while Jurel will probably be seen warming the bench for the first two tests. It will also be the first time Men in Blue will play a test match without seniors like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and Cheteshwar Pujara since 2011. Hence, it will be interesting to see India’s playing XI for the first test against England in Hyderabad.



Openers: Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal

Captain Rohit Sharma will open the batting with his partner Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has been part of India’s test setup since the WTC final in 2023. Rohit had a poor series with the bat against South Africa in both the Boxing Day and New Year test matches, scoring only 60 runs in four innings at an average of 20. He will be looking to leave behind the disappointment of the Protea tour and come in fresh for the upcoming series. The left-hand batter Jaiswal also had a forgettable outing in the rainbow nation. In bowler-friendly conditions, young Jaiswal scored a mere 50 runs in four innings. Jaiswal will be playing his first-ever test match in Indian conditions and against England.


No. 3 – Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill hasn’t got going, and a big knock still awaits. The upcoming five-match test series will be very critical for him and might cost him his place if he fails to impress the team management. But, on the other hand, he would look at it as a golden opportunity to repay the faith as a long-time replacement for Cheteshwar Pujara. Gill reportedly asked to bat in the number three spot before the West Indies tour, and since then, he has batted at that particular position in eight innings and scored only 166 runs.



No. 4 – KL Rahul / Rajat Patidar / Cheteshwar Pujara

India’s number four position was fixed with former skipper Virat Kohli for a long time. But, in his unavailability for the first two tests due to personal reasons, the number four slot has been opened up and three players will be keen to grab the opportunity and score runs to find a place in the squad for the remaining test matches of the series. 


KL Rahul is the strongest contender to replace him in the first XI. Rahul has done everything possible to represent his country across formats. He has opened the innings, kept wickets and now has played in the middle order as well. And his recent form and stats in Indian conditions have also been quite impressive, scoring 923 runs in 16 matches at an average of 40.13. Notably, his highest individual score of 199 also came against England during the 2016 series.

 

BCCI is yet to announce the replacement for the right-handed stalwart. However, as per the reports from Cricbuzz, his RCB mate Rajat Patidar and experienced Cheteshwar Pujara are in line to be named as replacements. Rajat Patidar’s two back-to-back centuries against the Three Lions in the first unofficial Test and a two-day warm-up fixture make him another possible prospect to replace Kohli in the playing XI. So far, he has amassed 4000 runs in 55 matches at an average of 45.97, with 12 hundreds in his First-class cricket career.

 

Cheteshwar Pujara continues to knock on the door of the Indian cricket team, scoring an unbeaten 243 against Jharkhand, his eighth double-ton in the competition, followed by scores of 49, 43, 43, and 66. Pujara is a proven match-winner, whenever he teases the opposition batters. Most importantly, he will bring the experience of 103 Tests which India lacks without Virat Kohli.



India vs New Zealand, 1st Test, 2021 - Shreyas Iyer raises his bat as he scores century on Test debut (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Shreyas Iyer has great track record in Indian conditions (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

No. 5 – Shreyas Iyer

With Virat Kohli’s withdrawal, Shreyas Iyer picks himself at number five for India in the first two tests against England. Iyer’s record in home tests has been fabulous, racking up 430 runs in 7 matches, including a century and three half-centuries since his debut against New Zealand on Indian soil in 2021. However, the right-hand batter has failed to convert his starts into big hundreds and will be looking to play a few big knocks for India in the upcoming five-match test series against England. The Mumbaikar has scored only 41 runs in four innings against South Africa and was seen struggling against the short-pitch deliveries.


No. 6 – Wicketkeeper

With the two best all-rounders in the world in the squad, the team management has always preferred five proper batters and two pacers, three spinners, and a wicket-keeper combination. Hence, most probably we will see a wicket-keeper batting at number six. KL Rahul, who played at number six in the South Africa series, might not be the first-choice wicketkeeper batter, keeping his workload and previous injury in mind. However, in that case, KS Bharat will be the front-runner to secure his place in the XI, while Dhurv Jurel will be warming the bench for the entire series.


No. 7 – Ravindra Jadeja

India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is currently the world’s number one-ranked all-rounder. He will be taking on the responsibility of batting at number seven and leading the spin bowling department along with Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin. He has played a key part in India’s previous test series against England in 2021. In the six matches against England at home turf, the left-arm spinner has claimed 29 wickets at an average of 27.20, including a 10-wicket haul in a match and two five-fers in an innings. Notably, the all-rounder is just 25 wickets away from reaching the 300-test wicket milestone and will be looking to complete the feat in the upcoming series.



No. 8 – Ravichandran Ashwin

India’s Ravichandran Ashwin is the world’s no.1 bowler and the second-best all-rounder in Test cricket. Ashwin is just 10 wickets away from a record milestone of 500 test wickets, aiming to become only the second Indian bowler after Anil Kumble (619) to achieve this feat. However, he took only one wicket against South Africa in the Centurion test.


The right-hand batter’s contribution with the bat is also unforgettable. He has laced 1708 runs in 55 matches at an average of 28.00, including three centuries and eight half-centuries at home venues. Interestingly, his second favourite team to score against is England, as he has scored 738 runs at an average of 43.41, including a century and six half-centuries.


No. 9 – Axar Patel/Kuldeep Yadav

Axar Patel was the chief architect in India’s triumph over England in their previous test series in 2021. He picked up a record 27 wickets in just three test matches, including four five-wicket hauls. Axar Patel has remained a consistent performer for India on rank turners and is likely to be India’s third spinner in the series. Depending on the tracks, India might opt for Kuldeep Yadav as well.


No. 10/11 - Pacers

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj will straight away pick themselves in the XI in the absence of Mohammed Shami. However, there might be a rotation considering the T20 World Cup is not far away. Siraj and Bumrah picked up a six-wicket haul each in the first and second innings, respectively, against South Africa in the Cape Town test. On Indian soil, Bumrah has played four test matches and picked up 14 wickets, while Siraj is yet to shine on Indian pitches, having played six test matches and picked up only seven wickets. He will be looking to better these numbers on home soil.


India’s squad for the first two tests:

Rohit Sharma ©, Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (WK), KS Bharat (WK), Dhruv Jurel (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohd. Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah (VC), Avesh Khan


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