The first series of the second edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) cycle begins with the five-match Test series between England and India starting on August 4. Both the teams suffered major blows ahead of the Test series as Indian opener Mayank Agarwal was ruled out of the first game after being hit on the head at the nets while premier English all-rounder Ben Stokes pulled out of the series to concentrate on his mental health.
With less than 24 hours remaining for the start of the first Test between the two heavyweights, it remains to be seen what combination both teams will go ahead with.
After losing the ICC WTC final 2021 against New Zealand, Team India invited criticisms regarding the team selection as many felt that playing two spinners on the swinging wicket was the biggest mistake. With five-Test series against England set to commence from tomorrow (4th August), there have been lots of talks about the Indian combination for the first game.
However, Ajinkya Rahane while addressing the press conference didn’t disclose the playing combination but hinted at the inclusion of Shardul Thakur in the playing XI for the first Test against England.
The Indian vice-captain, when asked who among the bowlers is the best bet with the willow and may fill up for Hardik Pandya’s absence, named Shardul Thakur and backed seam bowling all-rounder to come good in the Test series.
“Everyone is different. Hardik what he did in 2018 was different for us. Shardul can bat. You have seen Shardul bat in Australia and he did well in domestic cricket as well,” Ajinkya Rahane said.
Shardul Thakur averages 16.58 with the bat in first-class cricket, but his knock of 67 played a crucial role in India winning the Gabba Test against Australia in January. The Mumbaikar also has seven half-centuries from 64 first-class games after making his debut in 2012. He also picked up seven wickets in the historic Brisbane Test.