Following a month-long gap, the Indian cricket team returns to action, beginning the 2023-25 World Test Championship with a two-Test series against West Indies. The series opener which starts Wednesday marks the return of superstars Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and more, coupled with the young and promising talents of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan and Mukesh Kumar. In the next couple of years, Team India would look to sort out their best combination as they sift through candidates, staring the Dominica Test Wednesday evening. How long will Kohli continue? Will Rohit remain captain? If no, who will replace him? These questions will be answered over the next couple of years. However, for now the focus shifts to the Windsor Park, where another burning question awaits – What would India’s Playing XI be?
Multiple reports suggest that Ishan Kishan and Yashasvi Jaiswal are set to make their Test debuts. Ishan was part of the WTC final but lost out to KS Bharat as the specialist wicketkeeper; Jaiswal meanwhile, is most suited to bat at No. 3 and has big shoes to fill of Cheteshwar Pujara. On the eve of the first Test, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh revealed his pick for India’s XI, making a few surprising announcements of his own. While there is no confusion over Harbhajan’s top order, the India legend did point out a hard-hitting fact about Jaiswal’s position in the XI.
“According to me, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill should open and Yashasvi Jaiswal should play at No. 3. A lot of people were saying that Yashasvi should be made to open and Shubman should be played down the order – I don’t think so because Shubman has made it his own place. He (Gill) has got that position based on his performance. So, no one should touch his position. I will play Yashasvi at No. 3. I hope he makes his debut and scores a lot of runs. He is a very good player. After that, Virat Kohli will play at No. 4 and Ajinkya Rahane will play at No. 5,” he said on his YouTube channel.
Ishan Kishan or KS Bharat? Harbhajan’s pick surprising
Despite his struggles in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the WTC final, Harbhajan backed Bharat over Ishan to be India’s wicketkeeper. There is no questioning the keeping Bharat’s keeping credentials, but his batting in the five Tests that he has played has been far from convincing. With 129 runs with a best of 44 and due to his vulnerability against quality spin and searing pace, Bharat has been blasted with ‘walking-wicket’ tag. Ishan on the other hand has not been tried in Tests but that is expected to change tomorrow. In the bowling line-up, Harbhajan even left out Shardul Thakur as Mohammed Siraj’s pace-bowling partner and went ahead with two of the three new entrees.
“Ravindra Jadeja at No. 6, R Ashwin or KS Bharat at No. 7. If Ashwin bats at No. 7, then KS Bharat at No. 8. Then I will see Mohammed Siraj at No. 9. Along with him, I will see Jaydev Unadkat because he has been performing in domestic cricket for a long time and he hasn’t got many opportunities. So, I hope he gets an opportunity to play there and he shows what he can do. So I will keep Unadkat in the team and at No. 11, I will keep Mukesh Kumar. He has also performed extremely well in the Ranji Trophy due to which he has got a chance to show his prowess in the Indian team,” he pointed out.