Indian Cricket

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

India vs England 2021: Virat Kohli back to lead the squad as we look at the predicted 11 for the 1st Test.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since the historic Test series win for Team India over Australia. Such has been the impact of the series win that these 2 weeks felt like two years. Nevertheless, Team India are once again back to business to take on England in the format which has been generating a lot of enthusiasm; all thanks to the competitive pitches and the ICC World Test Championship.

The series would act as a virtual semi-final for both the teams as a part of ICC World Test Championship final qualification scenario as only one or neither of the two teams would end up in the final two spots. For India, the situation is simple. They have to win the Test Series at least 2-1 for a confirmed Qualification. Whereas for England, they have to win the series at least 3-1.

Coming to Team India’s squad, the major absentees from the Australia tour are back in the squad. The team would be boosted by the presence of captain Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Ishant Sharma. However, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Hanuma Vihari, and Umesh Yadav are yet to recover from the injuries.

So, as India take on England in the 4-match Test series, let’s look at the predicted playing 11 for Team India for the 1st Test match. Before that, let’s quickly look at Team India’s squad for the first two Tests vs England.

Team India’s Squad for first two Tests vs England:

Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Axar Patel, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Kuldeep Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, Mohammed Siraj, Ravichandran Ashwin, Rishabh Pant (WK), Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar & Wriddhiman Saha (WK).

Ideal Playing 11 – Team India

Openers: Rohit Sharma & Shubman Gill

The pair of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill did exceptionally well in the last two Tests they played vs Australia. With Prithvi Shaw being dropped and Mayank Agarwal considered more as a backup opener, Rohit and Gill should once again continue to open in the first Test. It would be interesting to see how these two target big scores considering home conditions. 

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

The last Test match vs Australia saw Mayank Agarwal being played at number 5 in the absence of Virat Kohli and Hanuma Vihari. However, with Virat Kohli back in the squad, he should continue to play at number 4. That means, Rahane will shift to number 5, and Mayank will be left out. Also, to note, the last home series vs England saw Virat score 655 runs – the most by any player in any India vs England Test series in India.

Wicket-keeper: Rishabh Pant 

This would be the most difficult choice for Team India to make. Rishabh Pant’s heroics at Gabba should at least confirm his spot in the Indian team as a pure batsman. However, his wicket-keeping skills are still bad- especially against quality spinners. Given the home conditions, Pant would have to keep a lot against spinners.

So, would Team India risk playing Pant as a wicket-keeper batsman ahead of Wriddhiman Saha? It is important to note that Saha in SENA may not be an ideal choice, but in India, he can be a decent batsman. Nevertheless, by the looks of it, Rishabh Pant should get a chance as the team’s keeper for the first Test at least. 

Spinners: Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ravichandran Ashwin, 

Given the pitch in Chennai generally supports spin, we should see India field 3 spinners in the final playing 11. While Ravichandran Ashwin selects himself as the team’s lead spinner, we should see two of Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, and Kuldeep Yadav finding a place in the final 11.

Ideally, if we ignore the number of right-handers in England’s squad, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin should be the leading two spinners with Sundar as the third option, given how good his debut was.  But, Kuldeep, much like Ashwin and Sundar turns the ball into the right-handers and given there are so many of them, it might not be wise to play Sundar and Kuldeep together along with Ashwin. 

So, Axar, who turns the ball away from right-handers would be a good option instead of Kuldeep. Moreover, Axar seems a like-for-like replacement for Jadeja. However, if the team is not looking for an extra batsman, Kuldeep for Sundar can also be a good option. 

Pacers: Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma 

Jasprit Bumrah is the leader of the pace attack, and he should be back in the squad after missing the Gabba Test on account of injury. While Siraj has had an extremely good debut series, Team India should persist with the experienced pro, Ishant Sharma as the team’s second pacer. Hence, Siraj would have to wait for a while before he gets back in the playing 11. 

So, that completes the predicted playing 11 for Team India for the 1st Test vs England. Barring 2 places of third spinner and wicket-keeper, all the other spots seem to be sealed. It would be interesting to see what strategy Team India, and how the pitch unfolds. 

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

Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ravichandran Ashwin,  Ishant Sharma & Jasprit Bumrah.

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