England vs India, 1st Test - India Predicted XI

England vs India, 1st Test – India Predicted XI

All eyes will be on the playing XI of the visitors.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav of India bowls watched by Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The much-awaited Test series between India and England will begin on Wednesday as the two teams will lock horns in Birmingham. Very rarely we witness the five-match series and the experts have already predicted it to be closely fought. The visitors have historically struggled in whites in the country but they look more balanced in many aspects compared to the Brits this time around.

While the onus will definitely be on their batsmen to score big, the bowling attack poses a greater threat than ever despite the fact that Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah aren’t playing. The spinners are also expected to play a major role considering the searing heat in England and the conditions ahead of the series opener have been tricky.

The duo of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri is often known to surprise everyone and we might witness some shocking decisions being taken during the course of the series. For now, all the eyes will be on India’s playing XI for the first Test at Edgbaston.

Here we bring you the predicted XI of the game:

Openers (Murali Vijay, KL Rahul)

Murali Vijay is the main opener for India. His performance on the last tour was superb and is once again expected to shoulder the responsibility at the top of the order. His art of leaving the ball outside the off-stumping had earned him a lot of accolades then and he will have to bring his best game to the fore to tackle the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Anderson.

KL Rahul looks certain to play in Birmingham after what transpired in the warm-up game. Shikhar Dhawan bagged a pair and he might get benched for this game. Rahul endured a fruitful outing in both the innings against Essex which must have sealed his place in the side. He is in the best frame of mind he’s ever been and the visitors will need a solid effort from him if they are to get past England in the first game of the series.

Middle-order (Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik (wk))

The middle-order pick themselves in this line-up. Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane will form a strong middle-order aided by Dinesh Karthik at 6. There is a question on Pujara’s recent form but his ability to play out time can’t be ignored. He must have only learnt from his failures in County circuit and expect a different Pujara in the middle during the series.

How much pressure is on Virat Kohli? This Indian batting revolves around him and it is imperative for them that he scores big more often than not. He had a miserable tour in 2014 and no wonder he will be itching to improve his numbers in the country after ruling the bowlers all over the world. India needs their skipper to lead from the front in this series and what better than starting it from the first game?

Ajinkya Rahane‘s fluency against the swinging ball is his strength. His century on a green top at Lord’s four years ago is still rated as amongst the best. But he is coming on the back of a string of low scores. He was dropped from the team during South Africa tour but came back well in the third and final Test. Rahane will have to show his prowess from the word go and with the focus on Kohli, he could well be the game changer in this series.

Dinesh Karthik has the golden opportunity to cement his place in the Test side as well with solid contributions. He was the best batsmen for Team India in the practice match and the management will be hoping that he plays with the similar confidence when the series begins. Also, he should remain consistent with his performances else Rishabh Pant will probably replace him soon.

All-Rounder (Hardik Pandya, Ravi Ashwin)

Hardik Pandya has to shoulder the extra responsibility. He will be the third seamer in this game and is tipped to bowl well after the opening burst from the new-ball bowlers. His prowess with the willow will also be crucial and this tour might define him as the Test all-rounder. Batting at 7, his role will be to score quick runs and bat with the tail-enders.

Ravi Ashwin will be the premier spinner and even he will be under pressure to improve his record overseas. He bowled extremely well in South Africa and must have added more variety in his bowling coming into this series. His ability to bat extends the batting line-up to number 8. He has four centuries to his name in the longest format and will have to bring all his experience to the fore to contribute as an all-rounder.

Bowlers (Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav)

This is the second coming of Umesh Yadav. The way he’s been bowling over the last few months is the best he has ever bowled. The fast bowler was hostile and accurate in the warm-up game as well and has overs behind him this time. Umesh has the control over the new ball and can do both swing and reverse-swing, which makes him the best in the business.

Umesh will be partnered by Ishant Sharma who has been there forever now in Tests. He will lead this bowling attack and his County experience will definitely count. The lanky seamer has made changes to his bowling and his back of a length style of bowling has earned him a lot of accolades. Many believe though that he needs to pitch it up at times which Ishant might do in this series.

Kuldeep Yadav might just pip the unlucky Ravindra Jadeja for the first Test at least. The chinaman was included in the squad on the back of some scintillating performances in the limited-overs leg and the visitors would love to unleash him straight away. Even England batsmen are already preparing for the challenge and it will be interesting how he fares in the series opener. He is expected to be X-factor for Team India in the five-match rubber.

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