With less than 24 hours to go for the inaugural World Test Championships final between India and New Zealand in Southampton, calls for playing two spinners in the playing XI has been coming from experts of the game as conditions suggest the pitch is going to turn dry soon.
The two favourites for the spots have obviously been R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja but playing them both means India will have to play with a pacer less for the final. This means one of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj might have to sit out for the match, assuming India will have five front-line bowlers for the game.
The match has been widely speculated as a pace battle between Bumrah and Trent Boult and also the recent results and form have suggested that Bumrah and Shami are two irreplaceable names in the line-up; leaving the battle for the final spot between the team's senior-most pacer Ishant and another in-form performer Siraj.
The murmur, as per reports, has also been that team management wants to play Siraj in the final given his recent accomplishment. However, playing him still remains tricky as the name getting caught in cross-firing will India's most successful and experienced pacer in English conditions.
At least that's what the statistics suggest, pointed out by former Mumbai Ranji cricketer Kaustubh Sonalkar.
"Ishant Sharma is India's most experienced fast bowler and his accuracy in England is the reason why he is part of the Test team. He took 43 wickets in England and performed his best of 7/74 performance there. In 2018 tour, he took 18 wickets at an average of 24.28. Also overall, he has been successful in the ICC Test Championship as well with 36 wickets at an impressive average of 17.36," said Sonalkar, who currently works as group director of Wellspun.
The only problem recently has been how fit is the pacer to play the final given his recent long list of injuries. But again It is also worth pointing out that while pacers are often successful in England, none of Bumrah, Shami or Siraj has played much cricket in England due to various reasons, something the cricket expert points out too but stress Bumrah is still the man of the hour for the match.
"Bumrah’s record in England was not as impressive as his overall record with his average being around 27 in his career average of 22.11. However, he is still one of the leading bowlers in the format and his form in the finals will have a powerful impact on India’s overall performance," he said.