Decoding India’s Playing XI: If the Track is Turning in Vizag

1. Murali Vijay

One of the most dependable opening batsman in World Cricket. India must feel blessed to have found an all weather opening batsman. He is one of the few players who have scored runs consistently in the recent away tours as well as home. The best thing about Vijay is that he is equally comfortable against both pace and spin.

2. KL Rahul

With scores of 76 and 106 against a strong pace attack of Rajasthan is just the sort of practice Rahul needed. Undoubtedly, Rahul is in the form of his life and to drop him with him being 100% fit is just as big a sin as is to demand change for a 1000 Rupee note.

After Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, lets hope the Rahul – Vijay pair create an era of their own.

3. Cheteshwar Pujara

The man in form. In his last seven first class games, Pujara has scored 1061 runs, including 4 half centuries and 4 centuries (1 double hundred) at an average of 106.1. Need I say more?

4. Virat Kohli (Captain)

I was a bit disappointed with India’s performance in the last test. But in the post match ceremony, he highlighted the positives out of the match and tried his best to cheer all the supporters. True sign of a great leader. Great Times for Indian Cricket.

5. Ajinkya Rahane

Arguably the second best batsman in the team, Rahane is also India’s safest bet in the slip cordon. Having scored runs in all parts of the world. Rahane has little to prove that he is a world class batsman.

6. Ravichandran Ashwin

A predominantly backfoot player. Ashwin has more often than not proved that he is a safe bet at number 6. With strong performances in recent series against the Kiwis and a brilliant 70 in the first test against England, Ashwin has done enough to cement his place as a genuine all-rounder in any side of the world.

Ashwin was in peak form against the touring New Zealand side and was instrumental in handing them a white-wash. Though he was not as effective in the first test as the pitch offered little assistance to the spinners. With him breaking all the virtual bowling records in recent history, he is arguably the best spinner in the world right now.

7. Wriddhiman Saha (Wicket Keeper)

In the first test against England, for the first time since his debut in 2010, one can say that Saha was sloppy behind the stumps. He dropped two fairly straight forward chances which are not expected from the best wicket keeper of the country.

With players like Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Kartik, Parthiv Patel and Ishan Kishan, piling huge runs in domestic cricket. There might not be too much breathing space for him.

It is highly unlikely that India drop Saha for the test on Thursday, 17th November, 2016. If this call is taken, it will mean extra responsibility on KL Rahul, which might not be a good idea as he has just recovered from a hamstring injury which kept him out of action for almost 3 months.

8. Hardik Pandya

With just 16 First class games under his belt. His stats do not exactly merit a place in the XI, but stats are just for crazy statistical fans like me. Like Dhoni, Kohli sees a lot of promise in him and is ready to back him. The challenge for Pandya is to quickly adapt to the International Challenge and to evade the tag of a short format specialist.

According to the new horses for courses policy of India, it is highly likely that India play Hardik in place of Umesh, who was undoubtedly the best fast bowler in the First test in Rajkot.

9. Ravindra Jadeja

Perhaps the only three time triple centurion to bat at number 9. But to be fair to the team management, Jadeja has not shown the same promise with the bat as he has with the ball for India. He is one of the best fielders in the world and his bullet arm is second to none. A complete package, India will hope for better returns from Jadeja in the upcoming tests.

10. Jayant Yadav

Surprise! With Amit Mishra making no impact whatsoever in the first test and with as many as five left handers in the England team, it is highly likely that Jayant gets a nod ahead of Mishra. The pitch at Vizag is expected to turn and it is highly probable that India plays three spinners again. A tall off spinner with decent batting skills, Jayant will be a perfect foil for Ashwin and Jadeja on a pitch that assists the spinners.

11. Mohammad Shami

Shami has quickly established a reputation as India’s premiere wicket taking fast bowler. With his ability to bowl with consistent speeds in excess of 140 and to land the ball in great areas with both new and old ball, Shami is all but certain to play.

Abhimanyu J Rajpurohit

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