What number of spinners should India field? Should they team Jadeja with Ashwin or Axar if they choose a two-person spin attack?
The Dilemma of Wicketkeeping: Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat?
India fielded two spinners and three seamers in the inaugural World Test Championship final in 2021 against New Zealand, who had a five-person fast-bowling attack in Southampton’s cloudy weather. It significantly influenced India’s defeat in the Test. India and Australia square off in the second WTC final, which is in England this time. However, The Oval’s weather is expected to be brighter.
However, India is once more faced with the following crucial interview questions.
Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat?
The Duke’s ball wobbles and dips more frequently in England than anywhere else, making it difficult for wicketkeepers to make timely changes.
Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat have little experience playing in England. However, during India A’s tour of England 2018, Bharat participated in a first-class match against West Indies A. It was the same trip that Rishabh Pant scored runs and gained entry into the Indian squad.
In the four-test Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Bharat, who replaced Pant, is still getting used to his new position. His hands are technically safe, but still a work in progress.
India may consider Kishan for the enforcer position Pant filled because he is more of an X-factor and was a team member for the home series against Australia. Kishan had two lengthy batting sessions on Sunday During The’s first day of practice, Oval, but failed to maintain. Bharat, though, began by keeping wickets before going to bat.
Should India maintain its Bharat identity? Or allow Kishan to make his WTC debut despite never participating in an English first-class game? Kishan has only participated in two first-class games since 2021, two of which were in South Africa against South Africa A in November and December of that year and two of which were Ranji games for Jharkhand in December. It is India’s predicament.
Should India use one or two spinners?
The combination of a bright outlook and a dry, bounce-filled surface calls for two specialist spinners and three fast bowlers. At the very least, it is too enticing not to consider a second spinner.
However, the Indian think tank could select just one spinner alongside four fast bowlers, including a bowling all-rounder, due to a new pitch unlikely to crack as the Test proceeds.
R Ashwin will be the front-runner if India chooses to deploy two spinners, a lineup they used in the final against New Zealand in 2021. Ashwin is ranked first in the ICC’s Test bowling rankings and second in the all-arounder category after Ravindra Jadeja. He has a tonne of experience playing in English conditions, and he will have great memories of The Oval, where in 2021 when playing for Surrey in a one-off match to get up for the England trip, he produced his best County figures of 6 for 27.
But Ashwin was absent from the five-game Pataudi Trophy series as India persevered with its 4-1 seam-bowling lineup. But no one has the same mental advantage against Australia as Ashwin. In the home series against Australia earlier this year, he and Jadeja shared the Player-of-the-Series trophy.
The alternative is Axar Patel, but he and Jadeja are too similar.
Who is the third seamer if the combination is 3-2?
The choices are Jaydev Unadkat, Umesh Yadav, and Shardul Thakur, in no particular order. Thakur and Unadkat bowled and batted during India’s first practice on Sunday, with Umesh bowling in the latter stages of the session.
Umesh, who missed the second part of IPL 2023 due to a hamstring injury, was instrumental in assisting India to victory in the series 2021 Oval Test. Umesh is skilled at maintaining pace, using the reverse swing, and applying pressure to his bowling partners.
In addition to adding depth to the batting order, Thakur’s strength is his ability to take wickets with his swing, cutters, and efficient short ball. But Thakur only played one Test match—a one-off match at Edgbaston last year—and had a dismal IPL campaign with Kolkata Knight Riders.
That Unadkat is involved should be familiar. Unadkat has a wealth of experience bowling on slow, dry grounds, which is what Indian pitches often are like, even though he was forced to withdraw from the IPL 2023 due to a freak injury sustained when bowling in the nets for the Lucknow Super Giants. The lone left-arm quick in the India team, Unadkat, makes up for his lack of speed by delivering heavy balls and intense lengths, In addition to being able to change the ball slightly after pitching to surprise the hitter.
Two of these three seamers will again be in the running if India chooses a 4-1 combination.
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