The much-anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and Australia is just around the corner, and India’s captain Rohit Sharma, along with head coach Rahul Dravid, faces a selection dilemma while finalizing the playing XI for the crucial match at The Oval. While the top five positions are relatively settled, the confusion arises from the No.6 spot onward.
One of the primary questions revolves around the choice of wicketkeeper between Ishan Kishan and KS Bharat. Both possess different strengths, making the decision more complex. However, former India cricketer Mohammed Kaif suggests that India should opt for Ishan Kishan as the keeper-batter, considering his aggressive batting style complements the late innings.
Another significant dilemma is whether to play Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. While both players are exceptional spin-bowling all-rounders, The Oval’s pitch and weather conditions may warrant a different approach. Kaif suggests that the conditions should dictate the choice of the fifth bowler, meaning that either Jadeja or Ashwin could sit out depending on whether a seamer is favored.
“For the World Test Championship, the openers should be Shubhman Gill and Rohit Sharma, followed by Pujara who plays at number three and has experience there. At number four would be Virat Kohli followed by Rahane who makes his return to the team. I would play Ishan Kishan over KS Bharat because you would want someone to play attacking shots at number six, because the ball is old and Rishabh Pant used to play that role. At seven, I will play Jadeja,” Kaif told Star Sports ahead of the summit clash.
Mohammed Kaif suggests his preferred playing XI for the WTC final. He proposes opening with Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma, followed by the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara at No.3. Virat Kohli would bat at No.4, with Ajinkya Rahane making his return to the team at No.5. Kaif advocates for Ishan Kishan at No.6, providing an attacking batting option with the older ball. Ravindra Jadeja would take the No.7 spot, followed by Ravichandran Ashwin or Shardul Thakur at No.8, depending on the pitch conditions. The fast bowling trio of Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Umesh Yadav completes Kaif’s preferred XI.
“At eight I would either play Ashwin or Shardul, depending on the pitch conditions, and if the pitch suits spin then Ashwin can target the left-handed batsmen like Warner, Travis Head, and Khawaja, so it will be a good match-up. I would take fast bowlers, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj followed by Umesh Yadav at number 11. This would be my preferred playing 11 because it’s early June, and you will need three fast bowlers plus Jadeja and Ashwin or Shardul, depending on the forecast,” he added.