A defeat in Indore has kept India waiting to seal a spot in the final of the ICC World Test Championship while their opponent Australia have become the first team to book a berth. The two teams could potentially be fighting for the world championship later this year should India too manage to qualify but for that, the Rohit Sharma-led squad will have to beat Australia or else will have to rely on the result of New Zealand-Sri Lanka Test series.
Before the third Test in Indore, there was a raging debate over whether the team should continue to show faith in KL Rahul who has been going through a lean phase in red-ball cricket with just one fifty in his last 11 innings. Having managed 38 runs across three innings of the Border Gavaskar Trophy, India decided to bench him for the third match as Shubman Gill took his place in the eleven.
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Should India qualify for the WTC final to be played in Southampton from June 7, there’s a case for including Rahul in the eleven considering two of his seven Test centuries have come in England.
But then what happens to Gill?
The legendary Ricky Ponting thinks that India can play both Rahul and Gill in their eleven but for that, a change in the batting order is required.
“With someone like KL Rahul having gone out of this side and Shubman Gill having come in, both these guys have played a bit of Test match cricket and you could potentially have both of those guys in the same team,” Ponting told ICC.
“Maybe Shubman could start at the top and KL could potentially move down into the middle order, because he’s played cricket in those (English) conditions before, albeit at the top of the order. But one thing we know about the UK is that the ball swings for long periods of time during the day. And if the overhead conditions are suitable, then the ball tends to swing right the way through an innings," he said.
Ponting says the two finalists should pick up players who will be best suited to excel in the English conditions.
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“Because it’s just a one-off Test match, it will be really important to pick the team that you think is going to have the most success in those conditions," Ponting said.
“The Oval can be a really, really good place to bat as long as the sun is out, it’s probably as good a wicket as any in the UK. So I think that’s what it would come down to for India. It would just come down to assessing the conditions and then maybe forgetting about this last series that’s just been played. The conditions that we’re seeing here (in India) are quite extreme. If it was Australia and India, they would both look at the conditions and pick the team that they think was best to win that one-off game," he added.
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