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India vs England: India's Dilemma - Experienced Ishant Sharma or In Form Mohammed Siraj?

India vs England: India's Dilemma - Experienced Ishant Sharma or In Form Mohammed Siraj?

Old warhorse Ishant Sharma faces tough competition from newcomer Mohammed Siraj as India ponder combination for the first Test against England in Chennai.

  • PTI
  • Updated: February 3, 2021, 8:17 AM IST

From not having enough options due to a plethora of injuries, the Indian team will have a different worry while selecting the playing XI for the opening Test against England, with old warhorse Ishant Sharma facing tough competition from newcomer Mohammed Siraj.

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The Indian team had their first of the three available practice sessions on Tuesday and going by the traditional Chepauk wicket that normally assists the spinners, India might go with two pacers and three spinners for the February 5-9 opener.

"The pitch is a typical Chepauk wicket. No English feel or anything. In this humidity, you need to have grass on the wicket so that it doesn’t break up that easily. This wicket will help spinners as it always has been the case," a BCCI source, who is monitoring the developments, told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

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All eyes will be on head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling coach Bharath and last but not the least, skipper Virat Kohli, to make a tough call on who would partner pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah, who missed the last Test against Australia in Brisbane due to a groin strain, is fit and available to lead the pace attack.

However, there are questions about 32-year-old veteran Ishant being out of red ball cricket for nearly one year. On the other hand, Siraj is in red-hot form having picked 13 wickets in three Tests, including a five-wicket haul in Brisbane. As far as Ishant is concerned, he has only recently made a comeback to competitive cricket, having played four Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy matches and bowled a total of 14.1 overs.

It is expected that in the course of the next two days, bowling coach Arun will take a call after checking the two bowlers in question. The second call could be a bit tougher as there is an in-form Washington Sundar and left-arm orthodox spinner Axar Patel, with senior off-break bowler Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

Washington is the man in form having hit a half century and taken four wickets on his debut, but his presence would mean two identical bowlers even though there is a vast difference in terms of quality. Axar is also a very handy middle-order batsman apart from being a like-for-like replacement for Ravindran Jadeja.

Hardik Pandya to start training from Wednesday

All-rounder Hardik Pandya’s quarantine will end on Wednesday morning and he will join the team training. Pandya, who is back in the Test team after a long hiatus, joined his colleagues a day late after attending to a personal matter.

While Pandya may not feature in the opener, he is expected to increase his bowling workload keeping the final of the World Test Championship and the five-match Test series in England in mind.

Team Rankings

1 Australia 3028 116
2 New Zealand 2406 115
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 Sri Lanka 2454 91
FULL Ranking
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking