The biggest selection headache in front Kohli and the Indian Indian team management is the choice for the No.5 batsman. Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has not been in the best of forms of late which could open the doors for Rohit Sharma who has now turned into one of best white ball players in the world.
There is a tricky call between Hanuma Vihari and KL Rahul too. While Rahul is the designated opener along with Mayank Agarwal, Vihari did his reputation no harm when he asked to open in a Test match in Australia.
Here we take a look at India’s possible XI for the first match against West Indies at Antigua:
Mayank Agarwal:He was brought into the Indian side for the Melbourne Test and has impressed ever since. The right-hander looked assured in the two matches in Australia and has continued his good form with India ‘A’ in West Indies in a series which preceded the Test matches.
Hanuma Vihari:The right-hander stepped up as a makeshift opener in the Melbourne Test and impressed everyone with his steely temperament. He was promised a longer rope in the middle-order, but his impressive performance in the practice games couple with the plethora of options in the middle-order might just force the management to use him as an opener for the first Test match.Cheteshwar Pujara:The Test match is back and Cheteshwar Pujara is back. He signaled his intent with a typical century in the tour game and if his statements before the series are anything to go by, the Pujara-bubble which became his trusted aide in Australia is well and truly intact.
Virat Kohli (C):Ahead of the first Test, the captain threw a challenge to the batsmen to step up and match the standards set by the bowlers. He now needs to walk the talk and well, as always, Kohli loves to lay a marker. Also, the right-hander was in great form in the ODI series and as India’s sojourn, begin in the World Test Championship, the form of Kohli will be a massive factor.
Ajinkya Rahane:Before India’s departure for West Indies, Virat Kohli spoke about the importance of Ajinkya Rahane in India’s Test side and with a timely half-century in the tour game against West Indies ‘A’, Kohli’s deputy has shown promising signs. Also, his presence as a tactician and as a fielder in the slip cordon is a massive plus for the side.
Ravichandran Ashwin:India’s specialist spinner in Test cricket, R Ashwin will also need to perform the role of an all-rounder in this squad. He has the numbers, especially against the West Indies, which should enthuse the management and hence, he has to step and make his performances count.
Ishant Sharma:The pitches in England in the recent past has assisted the faster bowlers and hence, Kohli could go in with four genuine quicks and Ishant Sharma has to be the lead weapon the skipper. He will also walk in at number 8 and hence, needs to step up with the bat as well.Umesh Yadav:The Vidarbha-quick has enjoyed himself against West Indies and also gave a great account of his pedigree in the tour game where he picked up three wickets. With his skid and pace, he can be an ideal option on a conducive pitch.
Mohammed Shami:Virat Kohli loves the pace and skills of Mohammed Shami and the fast bowler, despite blowing hot and cold on different occasions, is a match-winner in his own right. He might take the new ball or Kohli might use him with a slightly older nut, but on his day, the man from Bengal is a lethal weapon.
Jasprit Bumrah:One of the reasons behind India’s consistent run in Test cricket has been the form of Jasprit Bumrah - he was relentless in Australia, he was by far India’s best bowler at the World Cup and now, he will once again look to set the pace with the new ball against West Indies.