With incessant rain washing out the opening day's play at the Rose Bowl and thereby changing the pitch conditions in Southampton, talks about a likely change in the pre-announced playing XI of the Indian side has been brewing since ICC's announcement last evening.
On the eve of the big final against New Zealand, India named their XI featuring a five-man bowling attack with two spin-all-rounders and three primary pacers. Hanuma Vihari, Umesh Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha and Mohammed Siraj failed to make the list after making the initial 15-man squad for the final.
The call was made largely around the fact that Southampton conditions have favoured spinners with the curator hinting that the variety will be of more use if the game goes deep into the fourth and the final day. And with Ashwin and Jadeja also being world-class batters, the selection of the two also provides a batting depth till No.8 in the lineup.
With the opening day witnessing rainfall throughout, the damp conditions might persuade the Indian think tank into making a change in the original XI, which was only announced on social media and remains subject to change until handed over to the match referee which happens at the time of the toss.
This would hence indicate that Siraj or Umesh would make the cut, but that would happen at the cost of a spin all-rounder, implying that the change would take place at the cost of batting depth. In that case, Vihari could be given a go, given that he is a part-time spinner as well, a role he was handed during his debut Test series in England in 2018. But that would imply that he would bat as low as No.7 or Rishabh Pant exchanges his place with him in the lineup - both of which would be poor call given their batting prowess.
The change could have happened probably had Hardik Pandya been part of the squad, and was available as an all-rounder. But while India have the option of changing their XI, the replacement can be made only from the 15-man squad announced for the WTC Final.
With a reserve sixth day in place, much of the frustration of losing the opening day to rain was mitigated. And hence, fielding coach R Srishar indicated that India are unlikely to think of an alternate plan.
"I was expecting this to be the first question," Sridhar said. "I think the XI which has been announced is the XI which takes the pitch and conditions out of the equation," he added, referring to the team India had named containing two front-line spinners in R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, alongside a trio of quicks in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma. "I think it's an XI which can play and perform on any given surface in any given weather conditions. So that is what I believe this XI is all about, which we will put in the park."
"But having that said, the toss is not yet over, so we will ... if it needs to be taken, there will be a decision taken at the time of the toss."