India and New Zealand will face each other in the final of the inaugural World Test Championship. India’s campaign in WTC has been remarkable and in the previous 6 months, they defeated two top-class sides Australia and England. They retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Australia for the second time down under. The Final will be held in Southampton and India have started their training. India’s squad is fully ready and Kohli would target his best 11 players according to the pitch condition. After the Australia series, they have boosted their bench strength. For the final, India will enter with a combination of experienced players and youngsters. Jadeja is also back in the squad after the injury. Let’s break down the possible team combination for Team India in WTC Final.
Openers (Rohit Sharma & Shubhman Gill)
It’s likely that Virat Kohli will not make any change in the opening slot. Gill had some poor form after the Australia series. He wasn’t impressive in Indian T20 League 2021 as well but Gill has the temperament which is ideal for the Test cricket. He could be a surprise package in India’s batting lineup. Gill made his debut in MCG last year and was part of the winning squad. He played a vital role in the historical chase at Gabba by scoring 91. India have the option of Mayank Agarwal but Gill’s possibility in the final is pretty high.
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma will be a big player for India’s success in this final. He was brilliant in India’s home campaign. He scored a fine 162 in Chennai Test to set up India’s success against England at home. Rohit scored half-centuries in Australia but his average outside the home is a worrying sign. India would expect him to fire in England this time. Let's see what could be the best possible playing XI for India in WTC Final:
Middle-order (Pujara, Kohli, & Rahane)
India’s middle-order is possibly a dangerous one and the best among all teams. It showcases the quality of the experience. Pujara comes at number three and plays a vital role to provide stability. He delivered in India’s famous Test series win against Australia. Pujara’s importance in Team India’s WTC campaign has been terrific.
Kohli will come at number 4 and he has the big responsibility to end his wait for the international hundred. He got half-centuries in the previous one and half-year but didn’t find runs. When India last time toured England in 2018, Kohli was the standout performer.
Rahane has 12 centuries in Test format and India haven’t lost a single match in these Tests. If he scores big, India will surely bag a win. He scored 3 centuries in WTC 2019-21 and currently, he is the leading run-getter of India in WTC. Rahane played a vital role in India’s two away series wins in West Indies and Australia. He also got a hundred in India’s last Test win in England.
Wicket-keeper (Rishabh Pant)
When WTC started, Saha was India’s main wicket-keeper and he was sharp behind the stumps but India needed fire at this position. Pant came out as a big package for India in the last 6 months. He will play as India’s wicket-keeping option. Pant scored a hundred against England this year and scored some vital runs through half-centuries. He is the leading run-scorer for India in Tests in 2021. He can provide the acceleration for India and his quick runs can help India to put big scores. He had a good memory in England because, in 2018, he scored his maiden hundred on tour.
Spinners (Ashwin & Jadeja)
Southampton’s surface suits spin after two days of the game and India will pick both its front-line spinners Jadeja and Ashwin. Ashwin has been terrific in WTC with both bat and ball. He bagged67 wickets from 13 matches at an average of 20.88 with four 5-wicket hauls. He also scored a hundred which came against England in Chennai.
On the other side, Jadeja’s role will be crucial for India with both bat and ball. He has added depth to India’s batting. His crucial runs at down-order can change the outcome for India. Along with Ashwin, Jadeja might be a dangerous threat with his spin. India have the option of Sundar and Axar Patel but the duo Ashwin-Jadeja will get the final node from the captain.
Pacers (Bumrah, Shami & Ishant)
Picking the seaming option would be a big concern for Team India. We have seen some powerful performances in past from each and every pacer. Bumrah will be the leader of this attack who can pick attacks with the new ball. If we see some overcast conditions and extra swing, then Shami would be impactful. It’s expected that Shami and Bumrah will be the two main pacers for India. There is a fight between Ishant and Siraj for the third spot. Ishant has recovered from the injury and Siraj put a solid show since his debut in Australia. He was also in top form in Indian T20 League 2021. Experience might defeat the young talent in Southampton and management can pick Ishant who would be crucial for India with the old ball. He was in good touch in the last Test series in England.
India have so many good options, thanks to their strong bench. Vihari is also a good player in middle-order who is also playing the county championship in England. Mayank Agarwal has the spark to deliver in such situation considering the form of Gill. India will surely try these players in 5-match Test series against England. Kohli can make one change from his pacers and it would be either Ishant or Siraj.