1. You Are At:
  2. English News
  3. Sports
  4. Cricket
  5. India's selection dilemmas ahead of 4th Test vs England: Does Ashwin find a spot? Should Rahane be replaced?

India's selection dilemmas ahead of 4th Test vs England: Does Ashwin find a spot? Should Rahane be replaced?

With the series now levelled at 1-1 after the Leeds defeat, and with the objective to rest their fast bowlers, here are some of the selection questions for India ahead of the Oval tie

Aratrick Mondal Aratrick Mondal
New Delhi Published on: September 01, 2021 10:13 IST
Ravichandran Ashwin of India bowls during a nets session at
Image Source : GETTY

Ravichandran Ashwin of India bowls during a nets session at Emerald Headingley Stadium on August 24, 2021 in Leeds, England

Should India make any changes to their playing XI for the next Test? There is always a question over selection heading into a new game, but the highs of a win, like the one at Lord's, tends to subdue the dilemma, only for it to rise following a heavy defeat of the magnitude at Headingley. An innings and 76-run defeat in Leeds now have a growing chorus wanting the management to make a change in the batting line-up, besides the already-standing question over Ravichandran Ashwin's absence. With the series now levelled at 1-1 after the Leeds defeat, and with the objective to rest their fast bowlers, here are some of the selection questions for India ahead of the Oval tie...

Does Ashwin find a spot?

Since the start of the series, captain Virat Kohli has been adamant about keeping four pacers in the lineup with Ravindra Jadeja as the sole spin option. Kohli had explained ahead of the Lord's Test that Jadeja's batting has been the biggest gain for the team from the first Test. Hence, Ashwin has failed to bag a spot in the XI in the first three matches of the Test series.

However, Oval might be the venue where Kohli will be tempted to play both his spinners. Since 2015, spinners have collectively averaged 29.1 at the Kennington Oval at a strike rate of 51.2 while pacers have averaged 31.78 with a strike rate of 60.2

    SPIN PACE
Venue Matches Wkts Ave SR Wkts Ave SR
Edgbaston, Birmingham 6 43 34.81 61.6 157 27.2 51.5
Headingley, Leeds 6 29 39.13 78.4 166 26.16 48.1
Kennington Oval, London 5 50 29.1 51.2 123 31.78 60.2
Lord's, London 12 64 40.59 72.3 334 25.87 50.9
Old Trafford, Manchester 6 47 42.91 73.2 153 27.23 53
Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street 1 5 71 106 25 30.92 57.3
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff 1 13 23.92 36.7 27 33.37 55.1
The Rose Bowl, Southampton 5 29 33.41 66.2 111 27.05 60.9
Trent Bridge, Nottingham 4 16 36.37 60.6 119 24.56 45.8

If Jadeja, who was taken to the hospital aftre the Leeds Test for a precautionary scan for suspected knee injury, is declared unfit for the fourth Test, Ashwin is a certainty. If fit, the Oval numbers might tempt Kohli to break his "template" and head with a 3-2 combination.

Ashwin will then play his first Test since the World Test Championship final against New Zealand earlier in June where he had finished with 4 for 45. Interestingly, he had also picked a six-wicket haul at the Oval in july in a County game against Somerset. 

Will there be a change in the pace combination?

With just a five-day gap ahead of the Oval Test, India are bound to rest one if not two among Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. "That's bound to happen as it's a logical and sensible thing to do. We don't want to push individuals to a place where they break down and that conversation is important," Kohli had said in the post-match conference last week. 

With Ishant Sharma showing signs of struggle in Leeds, India, if they stick to the "template", might bring in Shardul Thakur as the fourth seamer which will also add to their batting strength down the order. There is also Umesh Yadav on the bench, who is yet to get a game in the tour of England. 

Should Rahane be replaced?

It would indeed be a massive call given that Rahane is India's vice-captain. But Rahane's average has now dropped to 40.18, only better than MS Dhoni (35.69) among top-order batters for India who have at least played as many Test (77) as him. Since 2020, Rahane averages 26.25, which is although better than Kohli (24.68) marginally behind Cheteshwar Pujara (27.56), and the run of form comprises that sensational Melbourne knock of 112 among his three fifty-plus scores. However, Rahane have shown glimpses of his old self, the most recent being his 49 off 190 in the WTC final and a resilient 61 off 238 at Lord's alongside Pujara that helped India fight back to script a stunning win. 

Hanuma Vihari is the only feasible option for India, if they go ahead with the big decision at Oval. This will also provide Kohli with a part-time spin option barring Jadeja and help India head to the fourth Test with their same "template". 

Write a comment