Prasidh Krishna likely to be the surprise choice for the WTC final
The crucial question remains around the inclusion of Hardik Pandya, whose back injury has not let him play an all-round role.
Updated - May 6, 2021 8:22 pm
With the Indian Premier League’s 14th edition being halted abruptly, all eyes are on India’s next assignment, the World Test Championship Final against New Zealand, to be played at Southampton from 18th June onwards.
It has been learned that the selectors are likely to pick a jumbo squad comprising no less than four openers, as many middle-order batters, two to three wicketkeepers, eight or nine fast bowlers, and around five spinners. All squad members are expected to leave early to acclimatize with the English conditions.
Meanwhile, the understandable reason behind selecting a large squad is BCCI’s plan to conduct a couple of intra-squad matches to compensate for no warm-ups. The squad announcement, which is expected to be declared in the next two days, is unlikely to have any surprise inclusions as the Chetan Sharma-led committee is expected to retain all members who were a part of the recent Test series at home versus England.
That, however, in no way means that either the selectors or the management will not have to scratch their heads. The crucial question remains around the inclusion of Hardik Pandya, whose back injury has not let him play an all-round role in the team for a considerable time now. Given Prithvi Shaw’s recent form in the domestic season, he holds a chance to get a look-in, although an abundance of openers (Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mayan Agarwal, and Shubman Gill) slightly weakens his case.
The only surprise pick might come in the form of quick M Prasidh Krishna, who shone against England in the limited-overs series. Other pacers include familiar options: Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, while Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur are also expected to hold their spot.
Who will be making comeback?
Both Shami and Umesh missed out on the England series after being injured in Australia, but having regained fitness should mean their inclusion. In addition to the two pacers, India must be pleased with fit-again Ravindra Jadeja, who sat out for a long period after being injured in the same series as Shami and Yadav.
Meanwhile, Hanuma Vihari ranks in contention increasingly as he is playing for Warwickshire in the County Championship. The spin twins, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel will secure their spot for the spinners, whereas Washington Sundar is likely to occupy a spot too. The middle-order will wear the set look with Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, and Ajinkya Rahane being in alongside Rishabh Pant. Wriddhiman Saha and KS Bharat are expected to be the backup wicketkeepers.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has already announced their squad for the final clash: Kane Williamson (c), Rachin Ravindra, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Tom Blundell, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling (wk), Tom Latham, Daryll Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Mitchell Santner, Ajaz Patel, Doug Bracewell, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Will Young