Test Cricket

England vs India 2021: 1st Test Predicted Playing 11 for Team India

England vs India 2021: Injured Mayank Agarwal ruled out as we look at the predicted playing 11 for the 1st Test for Team India. 

2 months of a wait after the final of the first-ever ICC World Test Championship final, Team India will inaugurate the second edition of the World Test Championship by playing England in their own backyard. If not the toughest, the 5 Tests England tour will be one of the toughest tours for Team India during the WTC 2021-23 cycle. 

Unfortunately, the tour has not even begun, and Team India have suffered two major blows. The most disturbing one being Team India’s first-choice opener, Shubman Gill, who is injured, and won’t participate in the rest of the Tournament. In addition, Team India’s second-choice opener, Mayank Agarwal is injured too, and won’t be available for the first Test. 

While the injuries certainly don’t help, the form of Team India’s trusted middle-order of Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane is a concern, and Team India’s history in England is something to forget about. It’s been over 14 years since Team India last won a Test series in England. In addition, India’s best pacer, Jasprit Bumrah is out of form. 

With all this in mind, and crucial 60 points up for grabs in WTC, it would be interesting to see what playing 11 does Team India deploy. While 7 of the 11 players pick for themselves, the debate would be on the combination, and preference the other 4 players get. So, in this article we take a look at the 1st Test predicted playing 11 for Team India and England 

India vs England 2021 – Team India’s Official Squad 

Batsmen: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, KL Rahul (WK), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant (WK), Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Virat Kohli (C) & Wriddhiman Saha (WK)

All-rounders: Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin & Ravindra Jadeja

Bowlers: Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur & Umesh Yadav

Openers: Rohit Sharma & Hanuma Vihari

Rohit Sharma shall start the series as the first-choice opener for Team India. The Mumbaikar has been Team India’s best opener and batsman in the World Test Championship, and would want to carry his form doing into the second edition of WTC. But the main headache for Team India would be the selection of the second opener. 

The loss of Mayank Agarwal just a day before the 1st Test is a big blow. Mayank was expected to open in place for Gill, but with him not being there, Team India have three options to look at. The list includes experienced KL Rahul, Solid Hanuma Vihari, or uncapped Abhimanyu Easwaran. Prithvi Shaw would have been an option but unfortunately, he is unavailable for the 1st Test. 

In the warm-up fixture, Team India gave a hint that they are perceiving KL Rahul as a middle-order batsman. Even when they had a chance in the second innings, India opened with Hanuma Vihari. With such a perception, Team India are unlikely to play KL at the top. India would also not want to risk playing Uncapped Abhimanyu Easwaran in the first match of the tour. 

Hence, in all certainty, Hanuma Vihari seems the most-likely candidate to play as the opener for the 1st Test. Moreover, Vihari isn’t a bad option either. With attacking Rohit Sharma at the other end, Vihari can provide solidity at the top. The opening would be the most crucial aspect for Team India in England, and Vihari could just be the right man for the job. 

Middle-order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C) & Ajinkya Rahane

The main news in the middle-order would be the availability of Ajinkya Rahane. The Mumbaikar missed out on the Warm-up fixture owing to injury. But the good news is that Ajinkya Rahane has recovered, and is available for selection for the first Test. Hence, he alongside Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli should form the middle-order trio for Team India. 

The main concern for Team India, however, is the form of these three in SEN countries. In the swinging and seaming conditions of SEN, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have struggled in the last two years. Whereas Virat Kohli is yet to hit a century since November 2019. If India have to do well, the three would play an important role in the series. 

Wicket-keeper: Rishabh Pant

Without a doubt, Team India would play Rishabh Pant as the first-choice keeper for all England Tests. The match-winner has been in stunning form since the Australia series, and with England conditions experience under his belt, Rishabh Pant will play a very important role as a batsman-keeper for Team India. 

All-rounders: Ravindra Jadeja & Ravichandran Ashwin

The second headache for Team India would be the choice of number 7. While India can play an extra batter KL Rahul at 6 or pace all-rounder Shardul Thakur, Team India would be tempted to continue with Ravindra Jadeja at 7, who brings proper 3 dimensions in the picture.

Jadeja has been the best batsman at number 7, and his useful cameos of 40-50s would be very valuable for India. Not to forget his important overs on days 4 and 5. Meanwhile, Ravi Ashwin shall once again start as the leading spinner for Team India. Ashwin also provides good batting depth at number 8, which can come in handy. 

Pacers: Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami & Jasprit Bumrah

The third headache for Team India shall be the choice of pacers. If you analyze social media, you would realize that Mohammed Siraj is a hot favorite. But will he get to play? Well, mostly not. India would want to continue with the experienced trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, and Jasprit Bumrah for a couple of Tests at least. 

However, India would desperately need their key bowler, Jasprit Bumrah to return to form. Bumrah has been struggling for form since returning from injury. Not just in Tests, Bumrah has been struggling in all forms of Cricket including IPL. However, this could just be the revival series for Bumrah. If he finds the rhythm, there’s no stopping him then. 

England vs India 2021: 1st Test Predicted Playing 11 for Team India:

Rohit Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma & Jasprit Bumrah.

So, that completes the predicted playing 11 for Team India for the 1st Test vs England. The main toss-up would be between Hanuma Vihari and KL Rahul with the former being a preferred option. For England, the playing 11 should Ideally look like this in the absence of Ben Stokes. 

England vs India 2021: 1st Test Predicted Playing 11 for England:

Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood & James Anderson

Thanks for reading! What’s your predicted playing 11 for 1st Test vs England for Team India? Please email your thoughts to business@cricalytics.com

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