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17 June, 2021

You Bet, There's Little Confusion Or Doubt Over India's Preferred 11

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India v New Zealand

Former international stars, commentators and expert enthusiasts of Test match cricket are debating over India's preferred 11 for the inaugural WTC final match.

The fact is: Irrespective of how the weather turns out to be on June 17, the eve of the Test match, the 11 players who'll take the field are obvious.
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By their own admission, statistics do not matter to captain Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri and many current Team India players.

The WTC final is a tussle between two of the nine-Test playing teams who fought their way over a two-year period to qualify for this summit clash.

Kohli and his men have several trigger factors to inspire themselves. Among them are:

1. This is the inaugural WTC final and they'd want their name to be inscribed on the trophy first.

2. Their opponent, New Zealand have beaten India 2-0 on their way to the WTC final. India would be looking to alter that by winning this final.

3. India will be playing a bilateral series in England after this final. They'd definitely want to start their England journey with a win.

With these factors in mind and a few others, Kohli and Shastri would be playing their most experienced, gutsiest, smartest, resilient bunch. This, apart from the specialist positions.

Thus, India's preferred 11 would be: Specialist batsmen: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane. Wicket-keeper batsman: Rishabh Pant. Spinner allrounders: Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Specialist pace bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.

The only notable change if any would be among the specialist bowlers. You shouldn't be surprised if the Indian thinktank picks Mohammed Siraj ahead of Shami.

Siraj is a go-getter. Shami, on the brink of decline although he has earned repute as a lethal second innings bowler and one who can wreak havoc when the ball turns old.

You'll be glad to see that former India great Venkatesh Prasad too feels India's preferred 11 is a no-brainer. See his tweet: 

Few former India stars are backing Hanuma Vihari to play in the 11, acknowledging that India's batting needs depth.

Their contention also gets stronger on the fact that Vihari has been in England much ahead of the others, playing the counties.

However, these aspects may not convince Kohli and Shastri.
Including Vihari would mean India is indicating to the opposition that they do worry about their specialist batsmen failing.

Vihari's inclusion would also show that India are not confident on the batting abilities of Pant, Ashwin and Jadeja.

As batsmen, these three love stiff challenges as equally as they love their bowling and wicket-keeping.

They need their captain and coach to feel assured and show faith in  their batting prowess.