India have announced their squad for 2023 WTC Final
India have recalled a big name among the 15 players selected in their squad but have more tough decisions to come for the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia.
India to back spinners or quicks
India have a critical call to make on whether to take one, two or perhaps even three spinners into the WTC final in the typically swing and seam-friendly conditions in England.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have all been included in the squad after each played a pivotal role in the recent 2-1 Test series victory over Australia on home soil, and will hope to have done enough to seal their spots at The Oval.
It will be difficult to discount the spin twins Ashwin and Jadeja that demoralised Australia with a combined 47 wickets in India during the Border-Gavaskar series before the WTC final, but a green-top may well make the decision for India.
Axar (three wickets at 62 in series against Australia) was by no means as prolific, though put together 264 runs at 88 in the series, and would provide insurance from a batting point of view.
Left-arm pacer a left-field option
While India will miss Jasprit Bumrah as he continues his rehabilitation from a back injury, India still have a plethora of quick-bowling options.
Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav have been selected as the leading pacers with Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat the likely back ups.
Shami was the pick of the India quicks in the series against Australia with nine wickets, and has the experience of playing in a WTC final after taking on New Zealand in 2021.
Siraj missed out on that decider but bounced back to take 18 scalps against England in the five Tests played across 2021 and 2022, while Yadav has impressed with his recent impact.
But India have left themselves room to spice up their pace attack with the addition of medium pacer Jaydev Unadkat.
While the 31-year-old has only played two Tests – the first in 2010 and the second against Bangladesh in December last year – the left-armer would add useful variety to the line-up.
Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Yadav have been preferred in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, but with all three of them being right-arm quicks India may look to a leftfield option for the WTC decider.
Rahane re-enters, though how will the batting order be comprised?
After an absence from the Test side since January 2022, Ajinkya Rahane has earned a recall to the India squad, though a selection in the playing XI is far from certain, given the collective strength of the batting group.
The opening role with Rohit Sharma is up for debate, though if Shubman Gill was to join the skipper at the top, it would likely mean Rahane slides into the middle order, with KL Rahul sitting out.
Gill is the in-form man after his century against Australia in Ahmedabad, though from the outside looks more flexible in terms of different batting roles, meaning there is also a chance of both Rahul and Gill featuring, leaving Rahane to run drinks.