The 3-day practice game between India and Essex showed certain positives – the middle-order solidarity – within the Indian team along with some big issues – opening position and spin-bowling dilemma – and as Virat Kohli and Co head towards the series opener, legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar has suggested a team composition that could benefit the tourists.
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Kuldeep Yadav has been the talk of the town ever since the latter bamboozled England batsmen with his wrist-spin in the recently concluded limited overs series. It was due to these performances that Kuldeep was drafted in the Test squad, and many believe that the Chinaman should be picked ahead of Ashwin if Kohli goes with just one spinner.
Gavaskar, in his column for TOI, suggested that India should pick both Ashwin and Kuldeep for the first Test in Edgbaston, especially considering the Tamil Nadu-born off-spinner as well as all-rounder Hardik Pandya can bat very well.
“India’s think tank will be wrestling with the combination of their team for the opening Test which is a game that invariably sets the tone for the rest of the series. Do they go in with five bowlers or six batsmen and do they include two spinners in the five bowlers they pick?”, wrote the original Little Master.
Explaining how the batting ability of Ashwin and Hardik allow Team India to field an extra bowler in the form of Kuldeep, who can play the role of a second spinner.
“They have the advantage of two of their bowlers, R Ashwin and Hardik Pandya with Test hundreds under their belts, so they can bat deep even if they go with five batsmen and there’s Dinesh Karthik too, who has a Test hundred. If Karthik bats at six with Ashiwn and Pandya to follow then they can play Kuldeep Yadav as the second spinner,” Gavaskar added in his column.
Kohli’s Team India, who experienced mixed-results in the tour so far – a 2-1 victory in the T20I series and 2-1 loss in the ODI series – begin the first Test against England on August 1.