WTC Final: India's Predicted Playing XI against New Zealand

WTC Final: India’s Predicted Playing XI against New Zealand

Team India faces a problem of plenty to select the final combination.

Team India
Team India. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

India and New Zealand are getting ready to cross swords in the much-awaited ICC World Test Championship final, which commences on June 18 (Friday) at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Both these sides have been doing exceptionally well in red-ball cricket, and hence, fans are expecting to witness a fascinating contest. With the encounter being just around the corner, both camps would be busy finalizing their best combination clash.

Virat Kohli and the Indian team management have a problem of plenty while doing so with many potent players in the ranks. Notably, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) named an enormous 20-man squad for the WTC final and the following England series. On June 15, however, the squad was trimmed by five for the summit clash. Hence, the final combination would be decided based on weather and pitch conditions.

India’s predicted XI for the ICC WTC Final against New Zealand:

Openers: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill

Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. (Photo Source: Twitter)

With Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul not getting a place in the final 15, it’s sure that Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill will open the Indian innings in the ultimate clash. Both these players have done well in their recent Test assignments and would be raring to shine against the Kiwis as well. However, England hasn’t been a pleasant place for Test openers in the last few years.

The new Duke ball offers swing to the fast bowlers, and the overcast conditions make openers’ jobs even more challenging. Hence, Rohit and Gill can’t afford to put a foot wrong while tackling the likes of Tim Southee and Trent Boult. Notably, this will be Shubman’s first Test on England soil. While Sharma has played red-ball cricket in the UK before, he played those matches as a middle-order batsman. Hence, the duo has a job in hand.

Middle-Order: Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, and Rishabh Pant (wk)

Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara
Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

There won’t be any dilemma in picking the middle-order with veterans Cheteshwar Pujara, skipper Virat Kohli and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane being proven stars of this format. All these three talismans have played as many as two-Test series in England, and that experience will surely come in handy. Hailed as the modern-day red-ball great, Pujara will have the onus to neutralize the bite of the dukes and play a marathon knock.

With the ball getting old, the conditions will be better for batting. Hence, Kohli and Rahane, who’ll bat at four and five respectively, will have to do the bulk of the scoring. They’ll also have to tackle the spin challenge precisely as the game progresses. To sum up, the performance of these three batsmen would be critical in deciding the fate of the encounter.

Picking Rishabh Pant over Wriddhiman Saha would be a no-brainer with the southpaw being in the form of his life. Pant played several spectacular knocks during Australia and England Test series earlier this year. During this time, his glovework also earn accolades. Notably, the dasher scored a fiery century in his last Test outing in England and he won’t mind crossing the three-figure mark again.

All-rounder-Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin & Ravindra Jadeja most wickets
Ravichandran Ashwin & Ravindra Jadeja. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Now, the biggest question is would India go with six specialist batsmen or five bowling options? They are likely to go with the latter, and hence, Hanuma Vihari is expected to warm the benches. The right-handed batsman couldn’t impress much in his recent county stint, and this might be enough to keep him out of the playing XI. Moreover, Vihari’s ouster means India can field both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the same line-up.

Jadeja has shown tremendous growth in the past few years and is one of the most celebrated all-rounders going around. On the other hand, Ashwin delivered with both bat and ball during his last series against England. Hence, keeping him in benches won’t be wise. Notably, spin is expected to play a part as the game progresses, and the duo can trouble the Kiwis. This means Pant would bat at number six with Jadeja and Ashwin next in the order.

Bowlers: Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, and Ishant Sharma

Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Fast bowlers would occupy the remaining slots, and Team India faces a problem of plenty in this department. In Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, and Umesh Yadav, India has five pace specialists in the final 15. While Bumrah is a sure starter, Yadav isn’t anywhere near the reckoning. Hence, Shami, Ishant, and Siraj are in contention for the final two spots.

Siraj has been in tremendous form lately and has bowled one spectacular spell after another. He even has the trust of his skipper Virat Kohli. However, Ishant and Shami are veterans of this format, and they should be preferred ahead of the talented fast bowler. Moreover, the Shami-Bumrah-Ishant troika has been a nemesis for many batting line-ups, and Team India should persist with them.

India Playing XI for ICC WTC Final against New Zealand

Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma