All eyes on Captain Kohli’s choice of players as India brace for tough English Test

NOTTINGHAM: The toughest four months of Virat Kohli’s eventful leadership career start here on Wednesday when his strategic acumen will be tested while selecting a perfect Indian combination to take on a good England side in the first Test of a five-match series.
Kohli announced his playing XI for the World Test Championship finalagainst New Zealand couple of days before the game and drew flak for
not respecting the conditions.
However, on Wednesday, he will have to think overtime about the balance of his squad with a long tail, often bushy with runs, and just two openers — one untested (Rohit Sharma) but very capable and another supremely talented (KL Rahul) but highly reluctant starter.
Rahul, with 2000 plus Test runs, looks a logical choice to partner Rohit after Mayank Agarwal’s concussion but the lack of Hardik Pandya and the utility of two specialist spinners does come into the question.
Bengal’s Abhimanyu Easwaran had last played a first-class game in March, 2020 and that too after enduring a horrendous season. Will the team risk him? It would be a huge call.
That brings into the equation Hanuma Vihari, the team’s ‘All-Purpose Player’, who had once faced the new ball in Australia.
His handy off-spin, along with that of automatic choice Ravichandran Ashwin, could also pave the way for Shardul Thakur’s entry as the bowling all-rounder in place of an experienced Ravindra Jadeja.
Mohammed Shami is still a wily customer and Ishant Sharma still possesses a big heart but they are ageing.

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