Most readers align with India's Playing XI

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17 Jun 2021 | 02:49 PM staff

Most readers align with India's Playing XI

Before India announced their Playing XI, our readers sent their preferred XIs for the WTC Final

Shankara Raman

XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.

Rohit and Gill did a pretty good job opening the batting against a strong Aussie bowling line up Down Under and the pair should be persisted with given Rohit’s experience in international cricket. Meanwhile, Gill was one of the finds of the tour. Pujara would be my ideal No. 3 as he can counter the new ball if a wicket falls early. Had a good tour last time around. 

Kohli to bat at his usual position - No.4. Rahane has performed very well in English conditions and will play and bat ahead of inexperienced Vihari. Then comes our wicketkeeper Pant, the game-changer! 

I would play both Jadeja and R Ashwin because the Southampton pitch suits the spinners and New Zealand's top order have three left-handers. And, then Ashwin will come into play. Also if India bat first and put up a decent first innings score, New Zealand will have to bat last and face two quality spinners. We can expect a lot from Jadeja the batsman and he is also our ideal fifth bowler.

My three fast bowlers would be Bumrah, Shami, and Siraj. Bumrah had a brilliant tour last time. Shami would be my wicket-taker and much is expected of him after having missed the Australian tour due to an injury. I would go with Siraj ahead of Ishant Sharma considering his match-winning performances in Australia and also his ability to break partnerships and give crucial breakthroughs.

I feel this is India's best XI to beat New Zealand in the WTC final with six batsmen, two spin bowling all-rounders, and three quality pacers.

Sidharth Gulati

XI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma.

Big game, pressure, critics -- the concept of "best playing XI" is up for discussion. In the Indian cricket team’s case, the management is likely to have an exhaustive chat on three points when they sit down to finalize the XI for the inaugural World Test Championship finale.

Who opens with Rohit Sharma?

It makes sense to continue with young Gill, but Agarwal’s experience might just earn him a spot in the final XI. Yes, Agarwal did struggle in Australia during the 2020/21 Border Gavaskar Trophy, but he’s someone who has scored more than 5,000 (first-class) runs and can be trusted to get the job done.

Mohammed Shami or Mohammed Siraj?

Shami last played a Test for India in December 2020. Since then, Siraj has grabbed 16 wickets across five Tests. In fact, he was India’s leading wicket-taker (13) in their historic 2-1 series win in Australia. But then, Shami’s experience and seniority might be enough for him to seal a place as the third pacer. A little harsh on Siraj, but India need their ‘second innings star’ for this all-important encounter.

Two spin bowling all-rounders?

Play to your strengths. As simple as that. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the fans witness India’s pace bowlers restricting the run flow, thereby creating opportunities for Ashwin and Jadeja to get the better of Kiwi batsmen.

Sanket Bal

XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

As straightforward as it seems otherwise, India have an elephant in the room to address. Especially, first up, Ishant Sharma or Mohammed Siraj? Ishant has the experience and hasn’t put up a step wrong to warm the bench but with Ashwin and Jadeja picking themselves because of the current dynamics, I guess India need to make a judgment call. 

I would go with Siraj purely because he gives India options with his pace and swinging ability while Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah hold the key to trial by pace. In an ideal situation, all four should have made the cut. but I wouldn’t trade that for the spin duo. 

Vishal Chaudhary

XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami.

I will go with Rohit and Gill as my openers because they can do well in English conditions and can handle tough situations. And, as we all know, Rohit has been excellent in big matches. Meanwhile, Gill showed his talent in Australia. He is very good against fast bowlers and we saw that against the Australia trio - Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood.

Pujara at No. 3 is always fine, while Kohli is the best. He is India's No. 1 batter. I will keep Rahane at No. 5 because of his experience. He is sensational. Our wicketkeeper should be Pant and not Wriddhiman Saha. Pant is in form and is even doing well behind the stumps. If he stays at the crease, he could score big. 

I think we should play both Jadeja and Ashwin. Jadeja is fine with both bat and ball. Those two together can dismiss anyone. I will keep three fast bowlers - Umesh, Shami, and Bumrah. These are the three who have done well for India in the WTC.

Aishwarya Bal

XI - Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

This is one of India’s most crucial games, they have been in two ICC finals over the last few years and they haven’t won in any of them. Given the importance of this fixture, they shouldn’t take it as the 2019 fixture against New Zealand, where they brought in last-minute changes. India should play with their best XI, with the most experienced bowling attack possible. 

They should pick Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammed Shami over the other options with Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin as the two spinners. There is no way that they should pick Mohammed Siraj, even when he has been good just for the fact that they have to be in control, the entire game. 

Unlike the 2019 WC, they can’t give any excuses as to the conditions that were against them, they have even played a practice game there. Hanuma Vihari too shouldn’t be favoured in the line-up, after that County spell that he had, so should go with Jadeja. Hopefully, the top-order won’t change, with Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Pujara and Kohli. Rahane should play as well, after all the runs that he has scored for India in the past. 

Bishal Mallick

XI - Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah

As expected, the top-order can’t really change now, given that they have not picked any more openers in the 15-man squad, so it has to be Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill to open the innings. Pujara is someone who can’t be replaced, see even in Australia, India did well without Virat Kohli but Pujara is just so important for the team. 

I know Kohli has been in bad form but that doesn’t take away that last time in England, he played well. So Kohli can do well in the conditions, we know that really well now. Rahane is indisputable, he has always responded when under pressure. Remember the games in the West Indies, where he stood like a rock. 

Pant is Pant, don’t even try to change him, Kohli. Bowling is tough to pick, for me, Ashwin has to play, he’s the best spinner out there in the world. Jadeja’s form in the IPL was sublime and he played well in Australia as well, so he gets picked. Now the tricky part, can’t really see Ishant-Shami fielding together. So India has to pick Siraj, just look at how he bowled on those dust-bowls in Chennai and Australia. We need Siraj in England, he can make the ball talk with Jasprit Bumrah. Sorry Ishant, you are not on my XI. 

Er Biplab Parida

XI - Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah

This is the best XI for me, at least in England. Rohit Sharma has to play, the way he scored those tough runs against England, in India was just next level. He should be paired with Shubman Gill, the youngster who has been in red-hot form for the national side. I mean there were a few games where he suffered but who can forget the Gabba knock? Now that’s done, we have to pick Pujara, he’s the best Indian player, at least for me. Skipper walks in and takes his place, nothing unusual. 

I have my skepticism for Rahane but he’s Rahane, at the end of the day somehow he scores those runs, yaar. Rishabh Pant has to start but not because of him being just talented, look at that top-order, no left-hander whatsoever. So he has to play with Hanuma Vihari. 

Why Vihari and not Jadeja? Simple, India need good batting against New Zealand, we saw how they bowled last time. Ashwin and Vihari as spinners are more than enough in England, you don’t need Jadeja. For the bowling unit, Ishant has to play, that’s a no-brainer for me. Siraj and Bumrah should be the other two bowlers, which will make this line-up extremely handy, in flat or seaming wickets. Please consider this BCCI and India.

Ravi Teja Palagummi

XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma.

India will be desperate to take their revenge against New Zealand for that defeat in the 2019 World Cup semifinal. Most of the players select themselves but one player that I wanted to draft in desperately was Hanuma Vihari, considering his recent County stint. However, we need to play five frontline bowlers with two spinners. Thankfully, both Ashwin and Jadeja can bat pretty well and this gives us much more variety and we can be courageous enough to not think of an extra batsman in Mayank or Vihari.

Despite his poor form against England and in the IPL, Gill has to be trusted and should open the innings with Rohit. His knock of 91 at the Gabba in that very tense scenario talks a lot of his game in pressure situations. Hope he'll get us lots of runs in this game.

Two spinners because it is Southampton which is known to be more spin-friendly than any other tracks in England. And, we just can't forget how well Moeen Ali performed against India at the Ageas Bowl in the series back in 2018. The same goes with Afghanistan who played three spinners and made them bowl 30 of 50 overs against India in the World Cup 2019 and were successful in restricting India to 224. Hence, Jaddu and Ash together are a must, and their batting is a big blessing.

Desi Game ILAKA

XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma.

As a keen watcher of the game, I prefer the team to be aggressive and the team that is more suitable to the conditions. Balance of the team is more important than individual talent. 

Openers - With the likes of Rahul and Mayank, India can build a good set up, but going with the current pair, Gill and Rohit are the choices. 

Middle-order - Pujara, Kohli(c), Rahane(obvious Choices) 

Keeper--Pant, best available

Bowlers--choose 1 spinner and 4 pacers, 

Ashwin, Shardul, Bumrah, Shami and Ishant. 

This team looks best suited to English conditions with a quality pace attack and deep batting abilities.

Abishek Ravoor

Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

At the outset, India’s lack of preparation in English conditions has been widely debated, and many have been of the view that the sheer absence of match practice is going to prove costly. Considering this backdrop and the ground conditions in Southampton, the Indian think tank must dig in deep, and stick to their strengths, to play those ‘match winners’ who are capable of swaying the fortunes of a match on the given day! Though this can put the speculation to rest, it would mean making a few tough choices even if they don’t sync with the conditions. 

Coming to my XI, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill as openers did fairly well in down under, and I would fancy them again, particularly Rohit who can be destructive if he gets his eye in. I keep Mayank Agarwal out of the race at the top, only by a small margin, considering Gill’s away record where he averages 51.80 with a top score of 91. Also his backfoot game does come in handy overseas. 

The middle-order comprising Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane just pick themselves, as they have been the mainstay of this lineup for quite some time now and have come up with many match-winning performances on their given day.

Rishabh Pant has been in sublime form with the bat and the fireworks he displayed in Australia saw people drawing parallels with Adam Gilchrist, so he remains a no brainer as wicketkeeper Though there is a temptation to go with an extra batsman in Hanuma Vihari at No.7, his poor stint in the English county season so far, and Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round and match-winning capabilities, makes me prefer the latter. There is nothing this man cannot do on a cricket field, with pinpoint precision in line and length when he bowls and with his throwing arm when he turns a livewire. 

The wicket at Southampton hasn’t historically been a green track that makes the ball move both ways. Though statistics do point towards it being bowler-friendly, it has had something on offer for the batsmen too. With this in mind, the three seasoned campaigners Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Burmah, and Mohammad Shami make the cut to the final eleven. An eclectic mix of swing and seam amongst them and that truckload of experience they bring make this trio indispensable to the team’s fortunes. 

I go in with Ashwin for the final spot after considerable deliberation and by a sheer whisker, pitting him against Mohammad Siraj as the fourth seamer. The recent games where New Zealand have played England has shown that playing four seamers can be futile in the English summer, as the weight lifting is eventually done amongst three of them. Ashwin’s off-spin may come in handy against New Zealand’s Left-handers in Latham, Conway, and Henry Nicholls. Also he was exceptional against England on India's last tour there.


XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

1. Rohit Sharma:- Solid opener, most runs scored among all the openers in WTC, second-highest run-scorer for the team in WTC, the best average among all Indian batsmen.

2. Shubhman Gill:- Performed well in tough Australian conditions, performance in GABBA can't be ignored.

3. Cheteshwar Pujara:- No doubt about the wall, stone namely CHEPU should be at three.

4. Virat Kohli:- The captain itself, number four. Can't be a better occasion for the 71st ton. Will be captaining India for the 61st time in Tests, surpassing DHONI's 60.

5. Ajinkya Rahane:- the vice-captain, highest run-scorer for INDIA in WTC, the Melbourne savior should be at five like always.

6. Rishabh Pant:- the new sensation, the new GILLY, should be selected ahead of SAHA.

7. Ravindra Jadeja :- allrounder, gun fielder, miser, finisher.

8. Ravichandran Ashwin:- there should be an off-spinner because there are 4 lefties in the opposite side.

9. Md. Shami:- pace spearhead, chance of reverse

10. Ishant Sharma:- experienced pacer

11. Jasprit Bumrah:- I think no explanation needed for this guy

Siddharth Jain

Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishab Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

This is going to be the first and the most memorable Test World Cup final which is going to take place between India and New Zealand starting on the 18th June and unlike the maiden t20 world cup which many players said that they didn’t take seriously, this is not going to be the case with the upcoming Test final.

Speaking about the most interesting part which is the right playing XI, this is what I believe should be the perfect playing XI-

Opening- Rohit

Middle order- Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Pant

Allrounder- Ashwin

Bowlers- Bumrah, Ishant, Shami.

These are the players who have already earned to be there 

Now the biggest question is who should be opening with Rohit Sharma? And who should play at seven?

My pick for the 1st question without any doubt would be Mayank Agarwal considering that he has already faced the Kiwis on their home turf and that experience counts heavily considering it’s the biggest stage and you need that kind of experience. Also, he has a better shot selection when compared with Shubman Gill and he is also more experienced than Gill and he was in good touch in this year’s IPL. His Batting style would complement Rohit Sharma.

Now the biggest question is who should Bat at No 7? We have to choose from the likes of Vihari, 

Jadeja or Washington Sundar.

The bigger question is what’s going to be your approach and what are you expecting from your 

No seven? Is it a pure batsman or a batsman who can bowl or a bowler who can bat? 

My No.7 pick without any hesitation would be Sir Jadeja. 

Before explaining why Jadeja I would answer the question of why not Washington and Vihari. Washington is an off-spinner and we already have Ashwin to do that for you and it makes no sense to have 2 off-spinners on a pace-friendly wicket and this reason is enough to exclude Washington from the mix. Coming to Vihari, he might be your specialist batsman but you can’t say that Jadeja cannot perform that role. 

We have very well seen from the recently concluded series between New Zealand and England that four bowlers aren’t enough, you need to have that 5th bowling option and Jadeja should not be termed as any team’s fifth bowling option. He is a partnership breaker with the ball and the last time India toured England in 2018 Jadeja got just one game under his belt where he claimed seven wickets in the match and this is not something that your 5th bowling option does. His positive winning attitude towards the game is also a driving factor. Moreover, Jadeja is a 3D player whose presence in the field raises the fielding tempo and he takes those cheeky catches which you would expect from all your fielders. Converting half-catch chances into a full one is something that Jadeja has mastered. 

Akshay Thakur

XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

The question of Rohit Sharma’s opening partner is a crazy one at the moment, with Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill in the fray. In my opinion, Gill should get a go-ahead because of his performance in overseas conditions, which is slightly better than Agarwal. Gill is not in good touch in the first half of IPL but the Test format is a completely different ball game. 

I would pick Hanuma Vihari over Ravichandran Ashwin because I think that conditions in Southampton will help the pace department more than spin and in those conditions, I want to increase my batting depth. Vihari will do well in those conditions and can offer a little bit of bowling as well too and if the upper order gets collapsed then he is a good option in the middle order with R Pant and R Jadeja. I would pick Mohammed Siraj over Mohammed Shami because he is in good form recently and personally I think that he can do better in those overseas conditions. 

Adit Malhotra

XI: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah

This team of 11 might raise certain questions. Like, Why is Gill not opening along with Rohit Sharma and why have I taken Mayank. Why have I picked two spinners in England pitche instead of Mohammad Siraj. Well, the answers are quite simple.

Even though Gill was in good nick during the intrasquad game and has been a part of the playing 11 consistently, it must not be forgotten that he failed to impress in the England series this year. That too despite playing in home conditions. He is yet to register a 100-plus score in Test cricket with less experience than Agarwal. Gill is a very good player, but dropping consistently performing Agarwal is not a very good decision. Mayank has, in the past, scored even double centuries in India. Making the change from Gill to Mayank in the final match is risky, but a surprise move, which the Blackcaps will not see coming.

I will prefer two spinners in the Final as the ball does not spin much in England, but it does spin better at the Ageas Bowl. Ashwin and Jadeja have been our main spinners and will be preferred more. Axar Patel misses out, even after a spectacular debut series. He has just played 3 test games in India and has not played a single game in the grounds of England.

Mohammad Siraj is a player who has impressed but has to miss out. He will not get anyplace due to the likes of consistent Shami, experienced Ishant, and very dangerous bowler to face, Bumrah.

Pranav Anand 

Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

The first player whom I would pick is Rohit Sharma because he is the leading run-getter (1030 at 64.37) in this WTC as an opener. Shubman Gill will partner Rohit. Gill has scored 259 runs at 51.80 in away Tests, which includes two fifties. Cheteshwar Pujara at No. 3. Pujara averages 29.71 in England but scored 132* the last time he played in Southampton and that could be an advantage. Virat Kohli may not have scored a hundred in any format since 2019, but showed drastic improvement during the 2018 tour of England and will hope to replicate that.

Ajinkya Rahane is India’s highest run-getter in WTC (1095 at 43.80). Rahane has scored three fifties from four innings in Southampton and India will hope his form continues. Rishabh Pant will be the wicketkeeper of the side. The way he performed in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and England tour of India was commendable – scoring a combined 443 runs.

Ravindra Jadeja has played a huge part in India’s success in the last few years. He has picked 28 wickets at 28.67 and with the bat he has 469 runs at 58.62 in WTC. Ravichandran Ashwin is India’s leading wicket-taker in the WTC. He has bagged 67 wickets at 20.9.

Jasprit Bumrah has bagged 34 wickets in WTC at 22.4 which is decent. He picked up 14 wickets at 25.92 in three Tests when he toured England in 2018. The experienced duo of Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami would complete my XI.  They have 64 wickets between them in England from 20 Tests. Both have been excellent in WTC as well, averaging below 20 with the ball.

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India vs New ZealandICC World Test Championship, 2021IndiaAjinkya RahaneVirat KohliRohit SharmaIshant SharmaRavichandran AshwinRavindra JadejaMohammed ShamiRishabh PantMayank Agarwal

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