Former India cricketer and now a renowned broadcaster, Sanjay Manjrekar picked India’s XI for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand starting on June 18th at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
There were two selections by Manjrekar that might go against popular belief. The former India batsman decided to drop Ravindra Jadeja and pick Ravichandran Ashwin as the sole spinner provided the conditions in England are nothing out of the ordinary.
“I’m assuming you have typical English conditions. I’m assuming there will be a mixture of sun and cloudy cover throughout the five days of the Test match if it goes the distance. So, I’m picking the team accordingly,” Manjrekar said in an ESPNCricinfo video.
The former Mumbai cricketer decided to go with only four bowlers. He picked Hanuma Vihari in his XI instead of Jadeja to provide extra cushion to the batsmen.
“Going to have Hanuma Vihari to reward him for his brilliant innings before he got injured. India will need somebody with more compact defensive technique. Because the guys at the top of the order, barring Pujara, aren’t those kinds. So I will have Hanuma Vihari at number 6. Pant at 7, considering India have hardly had any practice game. I just want to make sure the batting runs deep,” Manjrekar added.
There were no surprises in the top five. Manjrekar went in with Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill as the openers with Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane taking the No. 3, 4 and 5 spots respectively.
The second surprise was the choice of seamers. Manjrekar agreed that India might go Ishant Sharma’s way but he said he would prefer Mohammed Siraj as he offers something different with the ball.
“Want Siraj, the swing bowler to be brought into the equation, and the last time Siraj bowled overseas in Australia, [he] got a five-wicket haul. Hard to leave a bowler like him out. You will be tempted to think of Siraj because when you look at Shami, Bumrah and Ishant, they are more seam bowlers, hit-the-deck kind of bowler. Siraj might offer something different. I would go with Siraj, but India might play Ishant for obvious reasons,” he added.
Sanjay Manjrekar’s playing XI for WTC final:
Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.