India is set to clash with New Zealand at the World Test Championship (WTC) final scheduled to be played from June 18 to June 22. The International Cricket Council (ICC) have kept June 23 as a reserve day so that the match could be completed if there is a considerable loss of game-time or substantial overs are left due to rain playing a spoilsport or for any other reason.

India announced their Test squad for the WTC final last week. The squad selection stunned many as eminent players like Prithvi Shaw, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav failed to make the cut.

India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and lower middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari made a comeback to seal their spots.

Team India named fast bowlers – Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna and Arzan Nagwaswalla – along with Bengal batsman Abhimanyu Easwaranas, as their reserved players.

Virat Kohli and Co. are scheduled to leave for England in the first week of June, following which they have to follow the quarantining norms for a few days.

The last time India played a Test at Hampshire Bowl, Southampton, was in 2018 when the visitors suffered a major failure in the second innings as they lost the game by 60 runs.

However, the saving graces for the contest were India batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli, who smashed 132 and 58 runs, respectively.

After a sturdy performance by Shubman Gill at the opening slot during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21, Kohli is likely to keep the youngster in the playing XI. For the other opener, the skipper might rely on the veteran batter Rohit Sharma.

For the one-down position, Team India will seek the services of the dependable Pujara. As mentioned earlier, Pujara had scored a century at the Rose Bowl during the India tour of England in 2018.

The skipper will ply his trade for the fourth position in the batting order. He imminently got over his off-stump woes and made a mark by being the highest scorer on four occasions during the Test series against England in 2018.

Keeping Ajinkya Rahane’s performance during the Australian tour in mind, he will most likely play the fifth position. The 32-year-old smoked a century (112) and later an unflappable 27 to help his side win the Melbourne Test.

Hanuma Vihari is expected to occupy the sixth spot. He was the highest wicket-taker (3) for India in the second innings of the London Test in 2018. Also, the Andhra Pradesh cricketer had shown his grit during the Sydney Test, where he stood like a rock for 161 deliveries helping side draw an otherwise probable loss.

Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are expected to play at the seventh and eighth spot, respectively. Jadeja will be making his comeback to international cricketer after a thumb injury. The left-hander has been an indispensable part of the team and can stun the opposition with his all-round performance. Whereas Ashwin will vibe at the eighth place as he has scalped more than 400 wickets in Test. On top of that, his batting abilities can save the day for Team India when needed the most.

The bowling department will be taken care of by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who were the highest wicket-takers for their side during the Rose Bowl Test in 2018. Keeping that in mind, India will most probably go with three pacers – Shami, Bumrah and Ishant Sharma. Kohli will include Ishant in the playing XI since the latter took a fifer at Edgbaston in the same tour.

India’s predicted XI for WTC final:

Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma.

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