Sundar to return after 3 years, Sarfaraz, Patidar in tight race: India likely XI | Cricket

If you are an Indian cricket team fan then right now your mind will be in a fix. Bazball has made landfall in India and although it didn’t create a lot of fuss straight away, it made a telling impact when it mattered the most to snatch the first Test from India’s jaws. And history tells us that it is one of the hardest tasks to pull off. When India are on top at home, they just don’t lose. In 91 years of Test cricket in India, Hyderabad was the first instance when the hosts lost after taking a 100-plus lead in the first innings. If that doesn’t worry you as an Indian fan about what’s in store for the next month or so then nothing will.

Washington Sundar drives en route to his highest Test score. (BCCI)
Washington Sundar drives en route to his highest Test score. (BCCI)

Then again, this is not the first time India fared poorly in the first Test of a series against England at home. One just has to back to the last two tours only. In 2021, India were dealt with a heavy defeat in Chennai in the series opener. The pitches for the next three Tests assisted spin more and India won all of them to take the series 3-1. In 2016, the first Test was drawn. The pitches didn’t change drastically like 2021 but India upped their game to win four on the bounce.

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So there is hope and this Indian team knows how to make a comeback, especially in home conditions.

Apart from the challenges thrown by a dynamic English side that redefines conventional cricket almost every time they step onto the field, India have their own set of worries to deal with.

In the absence of Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, this is by far the most inexperienced Indian batting line-up in recent memory. The highest run-getter in India’s squad for the second Test is captain Rohit Sharma with 3800 runs. The next best is Ravichandran Ashwin’s 3222. Among Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, and KS Bharat only Gill has more than a thousand Test runs.

The situation is so grim that the team management can’t even think of dropping either Gill or Iyer who haven’t scored a half-century in their last 11 innings.

Either Sarfaraz Khan or Rajat Patidar will make his Test debut on Friday but can they be banked to spark a turnaround? They have been hugely successful for India A and in domestic cricket but the Test-match arena is a different beast and the weight of expectation is immense even for someone making his debut.

Kuldeep Yadav and Washington Sundar to fill Jadeja’s void

What about the bowling line-up? Jadeja’s absence is a blow to all three departments. He is not only a lynchpin in the middle-order but also a lead spinner and the best fielder of the side. Who will be drafted in to fill the void? The easiest choice is to think about replacing him with a specialist bowler in Kuldeep Yadav. But that would mean, putting pressure on Axar Patel and Ashwin to score runs with the bat.

There is another option. That is to pick Washington Sundar in place of Mohammed Siraj. India anyway didn’t need Siraj that much in Hyderabad and by the look of the surface, it doesn’t seem like they would need him in Visakhapatnam too. Jasprit Bumrah can do the job of the lone pacer.

Sundar’s entry will give India the same batting depth and also add another option with the ball. His height and different lengths won’t make it easy for the English batters to go for sweeps and reverse sweeps.

His last Test was against England in 2021 where he picked up a wicket and scored 96 runs – his highest score in red-ball cricket.

India Predicted XI for 2nd Test vs England

Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Rajat Patidar/Sarfaraz Khan, Washington Sundar, KS Bharat, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah

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