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Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test – India Predicted XI

During their previous visit to Sri Lanka, team India had won the Test series in 2015.

India
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane (R) and Cheteshwar Pujara takes part in a practice session at Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on July 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

After a thoroughly convincing home season of Test cricket, team India is not set for a flurry of away Tests. The number one ranked side in the longest format of the game will kick start this spree of five-day affairs with a 3-match Test series against Sri Lanka. The Virat Kohli-led side has already started off on a positive note with a decent outing in the warm-up fixture.

The action now moves to Galle for the first Test. For the Indian team, the task remains simple – do what they have been doing and continue the winning momentum. On the other hand, the hosts – Sri Lanka – have plenty to think before the big game. They have been on a shaky ground in the last few months. After their away Test defeat against South Africa, they were stunned by a series-leveling effort against Bangladesh at home.

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In their most recent Test fixture, they were dragged to the bay by the touring Zimbabwe side. They managed to pull off a win, albeit very narrowly. Having said that, none could write them off. They had whitewashed Australia 3-0 last year and would want to spoil India’s party too. Indian skipper Virat Kohli is wary of this fact and has said he will not take the opposition lightly.

Amidst this situation, it will be interesting to see how the Indian lineup would look like in the first game. Here is the India Predicted XI for the 1st Test:

Openers (Shikhar Dhawan, Abhinav Mukund)

Team India received an injury blow ahead of the first Test when opener KL Rahul was ruled out of the game due to viral fever. Also, earlier, Murali Vijay was ruled out of the series. Hence, the two first choice openers of the team remain unavailable. The beneficiaries thus could be Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund. Indian skipper Virat Kohli had remarked that the team is not keen on experimenting in the top order.

Hence, Mukund and Dhawan look set at the top order. Dhawan has been in a prolific form in the limited overs in the recent times. He was the winner of the Golden Bat in the ICC Champions Trophy. On the other hand, things have not been very sweet for Tamil Nadu batsman Abhinav Mukund. He failed in his last outing in the India whites. Also, he was sent back packing for a duck in the warm up game.

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

The Indian middle order looks pretty set and well balanced. Cheteshwar Pujara was India’s go to man in the 2016-17 season. Also, he showed great form for the Nottinghamshire in the County tournament this year when the other players were playing the shorter format in the IPL. Pujara will be keen on improving his numbers outside the subcontinent.

Skipper Virat Kohli comes in at number 4. The star Indian batsman has hit four double tons in the last 12 months. This in itself is a testimony of how good he has been with the bat for the Indian side. The last time India toured Sri Lanka, it was Kohli’s first series win as India’s full time Test skipper.

At number 5 would be Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane was in stupendous form in the recent tour to the Caribbean. He was rewarded with the Player of the Tournament for his consistent showing which included a ton as well. Rahane will be confident of translating the same form in the longest format of the game as well.

All-rounder (Hardik Pandya)

Indian skipper Virat Kohli confirmed the inclusion of Hardik Pandya in the lineup. If Pandya plays, it will be his Test debut for the national side. There are two reasons that could potentially work in favor of Pandya ahead of Rohit Sharma. The track at Galle surprisingly looks favorable for the batsmen. Hence, the team might get tempted to play someone like Pandya, who is a bowling option too. The second reason for his inclusion is the recent form that he has been in for the national colors in the limited overs.

Wicket-keeper (Wriddhiman Saha)

Wriddhiman Saha is fit and raring to go. The first choice wicket-keeper of the Indian team has been doing a very good job with the gloves and the bat in the lower order. Saha has had a good run in the Test cricket in the recent times. In the warm up fixture against Sri Lanka Board President XI, he had hit an unbeaten 36. His ability to let the tail wag around him makes him a key asset to the team.

Spinners (Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja)

There have been a lot of speculations over the inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav in the playing eleven. The fact that he bagged four wickets in the warm-up game would only strengthen his case going into the first Test. However, the management is likely to stick with the tried and tested duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

With over 80 wickets in the last season, Ashwin remains India’s premier bowler in the Test cricket. Jadeja has been equally effective and is current the number one ranked bowler in the Test format. Also, Jadeja can hit the long ball. He had hit a brilliant 90 in one of the Test fixtures against Australia in March this year.

Pace bowlers (Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav)

This will perhaps be the biggest selection conundrum for team India. All the pace bowlers have been performing exceedingly well in the recent times. They have Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammad Shami. They are likely to field the last two from the list of four mentioned here.

Umesh Yadav bowled with pace and aggression all throughout the previous season and that has won him a lot of praises already. On the other hand, Mohammad Shami continues to be arguably the most skilled bowler for the Indian camp. Both bowlers are masterly with the reverse swing prospect which works in their favor well enough.

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