Former India head coach Ravi Shastri feels that the Rohit Sharma-led Team India will include both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the playing eleven for the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia, scheduled to be played at The Oval from June 7-11.
Notably, apart from Ashwin and Jadeja in the 15-player squad, India also have the services of left-arm spin all-rounder Axar Patel.
“If the track is hard and dry, you would want two spinners to play for sure. I think it goes a lot with the weather in England. I believe it’s sunny now at the moment, but you know, English weather, how it can change in the month of June. So there’s a very good chance India will go with two spinners, two fast bowlers and an all-rounder. That will be the combination. And then there’ll be five batsmen and the wicket-keeper, so six batsmen,” said Shastri in an episode of The ICC Review show.
“So if all conditions stay normal at The Oval, then this would be my combination, but you’ve got to have the quality to be able to put those guys out in the park,” he added.
Former cricketer Shastri was the chief coach when India outplayed hosts England in the fourth Test at The Oval, where the Indian pacers shined, Shardul Thakur came with an all-round show and Rohit slammed a crucial century in the second innings.
Shastri also felt the void left by ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s absence will hurt India’s chances and that it should be countered by picking another spinner to accommodate for the lack of fast-bowlers.
“India did very well in England last time round because you had Bumrah, you had Shami, you had Shardul Thakur, and you had Mohammed Siraj. So you had four fast bowlers. One being an all-rounder there, Shardul. That combination is a very good combination in England. Especially from India’s point of view. It allows someone like Rohit Sharma to control the game far better. At times in England, you need to slow it down as well. And suddenly it can get overcast,” said Shastri.
“You’ve got horses for courses, you’ve got all bases covered. But then if the quality is not good in your fast-bowling attack. If you think the guys are older, they are not as quick as they used to be, and the form is a little doubtful, then you play that second spinner because Ashwin is quality, as is Jadeja,” he added.
With India missing Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer due to injuries, they will likely have Shubman Gill opening with Rohit Sharma, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane at number three, four and five respectively.
Shastri also reckoned that Ajinkya Rahan earned his spot back in the Test side after being out of the team post the tour of South Africa in January 2022.
“The way he’s timed the ball, the way he’s looking at T20 from a different perspective. He’s not looking at the number of runs, he’s looking at the number of balls he’s playing as against that. What is the strike rate with those number of balls he’s played, which is good and which augurs well,” he said.
“It just goes to show (what happens) when you go through the grind, you go back to domestic cricket. He’s earned his place in that World Test Championship side. Now you’ll have to see closer to the event what the final XI will be,” he added.
The former head coach concluded by mentioning that the application will be the key for the Indian team if they are to go one step further from the runners-up finish in the 2021 WTC final at Southampton.
“The application is the key in English conditions, as opposed to Australia, India, you need to apply yourself everywhere. That opening partnership between Rahul and Rohit Sharma was fabulous. You know, the discipline, the patience that is needed to counter English conditions is the need of the hour. In England, in particular, the leaving game becomes very important,” he said.
Ravi Shastri’s predicted India XI:
Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj.