Under Shastri’s leadership, the Indian team won a Test match at the Oval in 2021, but it was mainly due to the play of the Indian pace attack of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur, and the classy hundred of then vice-captain Rohit Sharma.
In selecting his lineup for the important WTC final, Shastri felt that the void left by Bumrah would hurt India’s chances, and they should pick up another spinner to make up for the lack of quicks.
Last time India did very well in England because you had Bumrah, you had Shami, you had Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj, Shastri told ICC Review.
So you had four fast bowlers. One of them, Shardul, was an all-rounder.
That combination is very good in England. Especially in terms of India. It allows someone like Rohit Sharma to better control the game. At times in England you have to slow the game down. And all of a sudden it can get cloudy, he explained.
For Shastri, it’s important to match players to the conditions and current form. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are a couple years older and could be a few yards slower than 2021.
You have horses for courses, you have all the basics. But if the quality of attack in the fastball is not good. If you think the guys have gotten older, they’re not as fast as they used to be, and their form is a little questionable, then you play the second spinner because Ashwin is quality, and so is Jadeja.
According to Shastri, fitness will be a big issue for the pacesetters after playing in the IPL, as will the fickle English weather.
India have three spin options in their line-up, with the experienced Ashwin and top-ranked all-rounder Jadeja joined by Aksar Patel in the 15-player squad, who can be an equal replacement if required.
Shastri believes India has an opportunity to select Ashwin as the only specialized spinner and use Jadeja at No. 6 if the field at the Oval looks like it will have some turnaround in the later stages.
If the field is going to be tough and dry, you’re definitely going to want two spinners playing, Shastri said.
I think it depends a lot on the weather in England. I think it’s sunny there now, but you know the English weather, how it can change in June.
So there’s a very good chance that India will go with two spinners, two fast bowlers and a station wagon. That will be the combination. And then there will be five batsmen and a wicket-keeper, so six batsmen.
So if all conditions remain normal on the Oval, that would be my combination, but you have to have the quality to be able to field these guys.
As for the bat, Shubman Gill will automatically be selected to partner skipper Rohit Sharma in the absence of the injured K.L. Rahul. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli will go out at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, and an opportunity has opened up for Ajinka Rahane to return to the No. 5 spot.
Pleased with Rahane’s return, Shastri said the 34-year-old has earned his spot in the WTC finals.
The way he (Rahane) timed the ball, the way he looks at T20 from a different perspective. He doesn’t look at the number of runs, he looks at the number of balls he plays as opposed to that. What’s the hitting percentage with the number of balls he’s played, which is good and which bodes well, Shastri said of Rahan.
It just shows (what happens) when you go through difficulties and come back to home cricket. He has earned his place in the World Test Championship. Now we’ll have to see closer to the event what the final lineup will be.
Shastri went on to stress the need to concentrate on the bat, referring to the mentality of the 2021 team.
In the English environment, unlike Australia and India, the key is to apply yourself, and you have to apply yourself everywhere, he said.
The partnership between Rahul and Rohit Sharma at the start was terrific. You know, the discipline, the patience that’s needed to deal with English conditions is what’s needed now.
In England in particular, playing away is very important. In his choice of playing squad, Shastri chose keeper-batsman Kona Bharat over batsman Ishan Kishan.
As for Australia, Shastri doesn’t think it’s a problem.
They will have one spinner (Nathan Lyon), Cameron Green, an all-rounder, (and) three fast bowlers (Pat Cummins, Mitchell Stark and Josh Hazlewood), Shastri added.
Shastri India XI
Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, K S Bharat (vc), Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami and Mohammad Siraj.147252