India hosts the historic test match against Afghanistan, as both the teams meet for the first time in his format in Bangalore.
Afghanistan is set to become the 12th country to play an international test match on 14th June, as they take on India at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Afghanistan’s rise in cricket has been meteoric since playing their first international match in 2009. The team qualified for the World Cup in 2019, beating the West Indies in the final of the tournament’s qualifiers.
Afghanistan is set to take the next big step in their nation’s cricketing history, when they will take the field in whites for the first time. India will play host to Afghanistan, as they announce their entry in test cricket.
Both the teams have announced their squads for the one-off test, and theSportsRush takes a look at India’s probable XI for the match.
KL Rahul and Murali Vijay
India have had issues with their opening combination for quite some time. The problem with a reliable second opener has persisted for quite long, and it became more complex with KL Rahul’s arrival in test matches.
Shikhar Dhawan is an excellent opener in the limited overs format, but he faces inconsistency in test matches. India persisted with the combination of KL Rahul and Murali Vijay in the South African tour, and even though Rahul didn’t perform, it is unlikely that the combination will be changed. KL Rahul has proven his technical abilities, and looks set to be the go-to man for the England tour as well. Rahul also gained his lost form in the IPL this season, and will look to bank on his regained touch.
Dhawan has a good record in the subcontinent, but it is time that his role in the Indian team is defined clearly.
Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair
Pujara and Rahane are the core of India’s batting order, and with Virat Kohli arriving for the England tour, the three will play the most important role for India under the overcast conditions on English pitches.
Rahane captains the side, and was surprisingly left out of the first two test matches in the South African tour. However, he justified his selection in the third, as he played a fighting innings of 48 on a dangerous wicket, as India won by 63 runs.
Karun Nair enjoyed an impressive season with Karnataka in the Ranji trophy, scoring 612 runs in 11 innings at an average of 68. He was also eventually selected for the Rest of India squad in the Irani Trophy, where he captained the side. The batsman was dropped after the test series against Australia, where he became the only second Indian player to score 300 runs in an innings, after Virender Sehwag.
6th and 7th:
Dinesh Karthik (wkt) and Ravichandran Ashwin
Dinesh Karthik has made an emphatic comeback in the Indian team, and has played a crucial supporting role in the batting order, in limited over-format. He captained KKR in the IPL and led them to the play-offs, and deservedly replaced Wriddhiman Saha as he recovers from wrist injury.
Karthik’s recall comes on the brink of his decent form for India, and in IPL. His 29 runs of 8 deliveries in Nidahas trophy will be etched in the memories of Indian fans for long. Parthiv Patel, who was selected in place for Saha, was overlooked as he struggled with form in South Africa. Dinesh Karthik played his last test match in 2010 against Bangladesh, but will back upon his impressive performances in the recent past as he dons the whites again.
With Karthik making his way into the XI, Ashwin can find himself being shifted to 7th in the batting order. Ashwin usually comes at 6th, ahead of Wriddhiman Saha, as a more bankable player. In India, Ashwin’s bowling is second-to-none. He was man of the series on numerous occasions, and his selection as the go-to spinner is a no-brainer.
Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Ishant Sharma
India would like to test their pacing department as they go on a long tour to England. While Bhuvi and Bumrah will be back in the UK, the presence of Umesh, Shami, and Ishant will be pivotal. India would need a third fast bowler in England, and this series will be provide a testing ground for the same. Ishant has spent a successful stint in the county with Sussex.
After Mohammad Shami failed his fitness test, Shardul Thakur’s debut in the whites seems most likely. Shami failing the Yo-Yo test is bad news, as India goes on a long tour to England from next month.
Umesh Yadav suffered with consistency, but found his mojo in the home season last year, and even though he didn’t play in South Africa, he maintained his form in the IPL. The pace-trio, combined with Bhuvi and Bumrah, will be important for Indian bowling department in England.
Ravindra Jadeja is lethal in Indian conditions and has proved it time and again. The duo of Ashwin and Jadeja have won various matches for India in subcontinental conditions in the past, and the inclusion of the left-handed bowler should also be an obvious decision for this test match.
The Hardik Pandya conundrum:
The inclusion of Hardik Pandya in the test side as an all-rounder was seen as a positive move for the South African tour. However, barring the first test match where he scored a fighting 93, his performances was abysmal. His temperament was also questioned when he carelessly gave his wicket away in a run-out dismissal. He took only 3 wickets in three test matches, and his performances suggested that he has a long way to go in the longest format of the game.
However, India will look for a fifth bowler when they reach England, and Hardik Pandya will be one of the players who can provide that option. And so, he can make it to the playing XI for the test match.
Ishant Sharma is reported to have sustained an injury, and if it persists, Pandya can play against Afghanistan. Same can be the case for Shardul Thakur, who struggled with form in IPL and can be replaced with Pandya.