GTA5

WTC Final – India’s team selection and approach

This is the first ever World Test Championship (WTC) final and therefore the winning team will make history. With this thought in mind, it is important for India to go with a combination that is focused on winning instead of looking to be defensive. This is a one-off test match and the WTC trophy is at stake. 

Batting order for India is more or less pre-decided. The first five positions in the batting order hardly need any discussion with Rohit Sharma, Shubham Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane being certainties. Rishabh Pant will be preferred over Saha for the wicket keeper’s slot and that takes the count to six. This is a formidable batting line up and the team must have faith in their abilities to deliver. If these six cannot, then there is hardly any reason to believe that another batsman at number seven will make a major difference. Any thoughts on playing Hanuma Vihari at number seven will point towards a defensive mindset and that will be counterproductive.  

Test matches are won by the ability of a team to take twenty wickets in the two innings. Taking wickets is dependent on the bowlers and therefore their selection becomes crucial. Should India go with four pacers and one spinner or three pacers and two spinners or just three pacers and one spinner with an additional batsman? This is the dilemma that faces the Indian team. 

It may be prudent to go with three pacers and two spinners as that will give the team an opportunity to play a spinning all-rounder in Jadeja. The way he has been batting over the last one year makes him a perfect number seven who also merits selection purely on his bowling abilities. His fielding heroics are a plus at any time in the field as they also boost the team morale in difficult phases of the game. Jadeja could be lethal in second innings if the wicket wears a little and will provide variety to the bowling attack. Ravichandran Ashwin walks in unchallenged as the lead spinner. His batting abilities at number eight are a bonus. It is unfortunate but Axar Patel will have to await his turn.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shammi select themselves to spearhead the pace attack. The question is who should be the third pacer to complete the eleven. While Mohammad Siraj has acquitted well in the few opportunities that have come his way in last one year, ‘Team India’ may be better served if Ishant Sharma gets the nod ahead of him. He bowls a consistent line, uses his height to bang the ball in and is always economical. Any bounce in the wicket should help his bowling and English wickets do provide bounce. Finally, the experience of bowling on English pitches is also in his favour. 

Most test matches tend to follow a predictable approach, both from batting and bowling perspective. In the initial phase of batting, particularly in first innings, the time-tested approach that relies on patience and waiting for the ball that should be hit works well and in England more so. Leaving a lot of balls outside one’s off stump is inherent part of this approach. Therefore, the need to be always aware of where one’s off stump is. Frontline batsmen must follow this approach without any doubt unless the match situation on the fourth or fifth day demands otherwise.

Can India do anything to surprise the Kiwis on the bowling front? It may be a good idea to surprise the Kiwis by opening with Ashwin from the other end after Bumrah bowl’s the first over. A couple of overs of spin will not hurt or leak too many runs at that stage of the game but if it is India’s day, the dividends may be worth the gamble. A batsman expecting Shammi or Ishant to bowl at him will certainly have some doubts in his mind if he sees Ashwin at the other end. That itself will be an advantage as mind games are part of overall strategy. Who knows he may just make a mistake before he can clear his mind on how to meet the unexpected bowling option thrown at him? It is to India’s advantage that Ashwin is used to bowling with the new ball and can be very effective. Both Kiwi openers, Conway and Latham, are left handers and the surprise may just work.

The WTC final is being played between two well balanced teams and hopefully it will go the full five days. The match result could go either way. New Zealand have the advantage of being match ready having played two matches against England recently. Their confidence will be high after winning the series despite their star player and captain not playing the second match.  India will need to counter this with a positive mind-set and with some extra discipline, both in batting and bowling.



Linkedin


Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



END OF ARTICLE



Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also
Close
Back to top button
Close
Close