IND vs ENG, 5th Test: Undercooked India Eye Series Win Against a Red-hot England

Rohit Sharma wasn’t certain of making it to the playing XI in the last match of the England Test series despite being the best batter because of covid concerns. This time he was captain of the team but his struggle with fitness didn’t spare him this week again. Jasprit Bumrah will be making his debut as India’s 36th Test captain. Incidentally, Bumrah too wasn’t sure of playing in the last Test in 2021 along with Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Siraj. Both the bowlers are now going to be the crucial part of this team.

It will be interesting to see if fortune will favour Ravichandran Ashwin as well who was inexplicably omitted from every match of the series last year under Virat Kohli’s captaincy but may replace Shardul Thakur as an all-rounder in the line-up.

Also Read: Edgbaston is One Last Swing For Virat Kohli And India’s Senior Test Cricketers

Birmingham is expected to be overcast and yet the pitch is likely to be a belter according to the local observers. However, without a settled pair of openers for a very important game, England seamers know that the new ball will be a huge challenge for this Indian team which is coming to this Test match without any first-class game for nearly three months. And, the hosts are coming into this Test with a stunning 3-0 win against World Test champion New Zealand.

“It’s never good when you are missing your best player. Obviously, Rohit is a world class player and I mean it is always difficult but they have got better batsmen (in the squad). Yes, we know whoever will be replacing him (Rohit) will be a high-quality player and we have got to be prepared for that,” said James Anderson to this writer when specifically asked if it’s is a huge advantage for England when he was speaking to a selected group of journalists from England.

Shubman Gill has shown in Australia that he can rise to the demanding occasions and his likely partner at the top could be the veteran Cheteshwar Pujara who may have gotten a last chance to ensure that he enters the 100 Test club this year. Pujara has looked very relaxed on both days of nets practice and is highly rated by coach Rahul Dravid. The hosts also know that someone who has got over 700 runs in just five matches this summer for Sussex in county cricket cannot be taken lightly even if his batting numbers in Test cricket in the last few years are not breath-taking.

Also Read: Who Could Lead India in Rohit’s Absence? Virat Would Have Been An Obvious Choice

Anderson was just going for his net practice session and this correspondent couldn’t resist to ask one more question that if his team’s chances are better because whoever opens in the Edgbaston Test won’t be a regular or seasoned opener. “It’s not ideal. You always want people with experience but it is also an opportunity for the guys who have in the (Indian) team and we can’t control that and have to be ready for whoever plays,” said England’s highest wicket taker in Test cricket.

And yet, this match is not just about Indian openers. It is also about India’s new ball openers as well. One of them, Bumrah is going to captain which is a first in many ways. Kapil Dev was the last fast bowler who captained India in a Test but he was an allrounder unlike Bumrah who is a pure fast bowler. Even though, the pacer from Gujarat was officially announced as captain on Thursday, his body language over the last two days with his teammates was that of a captain. The way he was chatting with coach Dravid and his interactions with the senior players clearly indicated that he was ready for this news challenge in his glittering career so far.

The fact that Bumrah was considered ahead of Rishabh Pant (who was being seen as future India captain not too many months back) also tells a tale. Ever since he made his debut for Gujarat Ranji team, Bumrah’s progress in IPL (for Mumbai Indians) or in Indian team across the formats has been of a confident man defying all the stereotypes. From an unconventional run-up for a fast bowler to an unusual action, Bumrah has proved that there is always a unique way to do things differently. Can he do the same as Test captain?

If Bumrah can play an inspiring role over the next five days in Birmingham, who knows that the transition from an accidental captain to a regular captain in red ball games could be as smooth as has been his transformation as a bowler from white ball to red ball formats.

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