After all the reports, rumours and speculations, Jasprit Bumrah will finally lead India in the fifth Test vs England at Edgbaston. Bumrah's first test will be one of the most important Test matches for India in a while. At stake? India's only 4th series win on England's soil.
India were leading the five-match series 2-1 when multiple COVID-19 cases in their camp led to the postponement of the final game which was a part of the World Test Championship.
Nine months have passed since and a lot of water has flown through the Thames with the then-captain Virat Kohli relinquishing the Test captaincy. His successor, Rohit Sharma, is missing out on this game after testing positive for COVID-19
Worse, Rohit's designated deputy KL Rahul is also out after having undergone surgery for a sports hernia.
In this backdrop of the musical chair of Indian captaincy, the gauntlet has been thrown at Bumrah, arguably one of the finest fast bowlers in the history of Indian cricket and now set to be the 36th man to lead the national Test team.
What About England?
The 3-0 demolition of New Zealand with three tricky chases completed in style has shown that England, under new coach Brendon McCullum, have de-constructed their style sheet as far as Test matches are concerned.
Their batters are plundering opposition attacks while there are a lesser number of five-wicket hauls from the pacers if one goes by the statistics of the New Zealand series. It was Jack Leach, who had two five-wicket hauls and neither James Anderson nor Stuart Broad got their names on the various 'Honours' Board'.
The pitches have become a tad flatter, which is helping the batters and thus Bumrah, along with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will have an onerous task of tackling a batting line-up bubbling with confidence.
Joe Root, after relinquishing captaincy, has found the touch that had deserted him and Jonny Bairstow, with the confidence of IPL, has scored nearly 400 runs at a strike rate of 120 plus, unheard of in Test matches.
"England have done well as they won a couple of Test matches from positions where they could have potentially lost the games," Indian coach Rahul Dravid told the media persons on Wednesday.
"We will like to focus on what our strengths are rather than thinking about the opposition's strength," the head coach said, reminding one and all that India are still third in the World Test Championship table behind Australia and South Africa.
With all said and done, the fifth test between India and England promises to be one for the ages. Both teams are in the form of their life in Test cricket, and it's fair to say that Edgbaston will witness fire vs fire come July 1.
Jasprit Bumrah (captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Prasidh Krishna, Kona Srikar Bharat (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Umesh Yadav
Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes (captain), Sam Billings (wicketkeeper), Matthew Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson.