Sanjay Manjrekar has picked his India XI for the ICC World Test Championship starting this Friday in Southampton when they take on world’s top-ranked New Zealand. Manjrekar says his combination is based on the assumptions that India will encounter typical English conditions which means sun will play hide and seek with clouds across the five days.
“I’m assuming you have typical English conditions. I’m assuming there will be a mixture of sun and cloudy cover throughout the five days of the Test match if it goes the distance. So, I’m picking the team accordingly," Manjrekar said on ESPNCricinfo.
There aren’t many surprises in his team but he was opted against playing both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin - preferring the latter in his final XI.
Additionally, he has also left out veteran Ishant Sharma with his pace attacking comprising Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. Ashwin will be the lone specialist spinner.
He also has middle-order batter Hanuma Vihari back in the team who picked an injury during the Sydney Test in Australia earlier this year after batting through pain to save the contest.
“Going to have Hanuma Vihari to reward him for his brilliant innings before he got injured," Manjrekar said. “India will need somebody with more compact defensive technique because the guys at the top of the order, barring (Cheteshwar) Pujara, aren’t those kinds. So I will have Hanuma Vihari at number 6. (Rishabh)Pant at 7, considering India have hardly had any practice game. I just want to make sure the batting runs deep."
Manjrekar explains why he has opted for relatively inexperienced Siraj instead of Ishant who he thinks may end up breaking into the XI.
“Want Siraj, the swing bowler to be brought into the equation, and the last time Siraj bowled overseas in Australia, got a five-wicket haul. Hard to leave a bowler like him out. You will be tempted to think of Siraj because when you look at Shami, Bumrah and Ishant, they are more seam bowlers, hit-the-deck kind of bowler. Siraj might offer something different. I would go with Siraj, but India might play Ishant for obvious reasons," he said.
Sanjay Manjrekar’s WTC XI For India: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj