CHENNAI: Test cricket in India has its own dynamics and the first change from overseas routine is the return of focus on spin. Despite the success in Australia with the pacemen leading the way Team India is all set to go back to its three-spinner formula when the ball rolls for the first Test against England at Chepauk on Friday.
The Indian team had its first look of the pitch on Tuesday when the team practised and one understands that the feeling is that it is a “traditional Chepauk pitch”. It will mean that there will be some bounce on Day 1 with Days 2 and 3 being superb for batting and ball turning on the last two days.
In that case, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav will be the first two choices while there will be a toss-up between offie Washington Sundar and orthodox left-armer Axar Patel. “If the management wants more depth in batting, Washi should get a go.
But Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya had a lot of success against the England batsmen a week back and they may be tempted to go with Axar. A left-arm spinner also brings more control on the proceedings,” a source in the know of things told TOI.
While the six batsmen — Rohit Sharma, Subhman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant — pick themselves, Hardik Pandya, who will join practice from Wednesday, may have to wait for a while to get the nod.
Another interesting toss-up could be between experienced paceman Ishant Sharma, who is coming back from an injury, and Mohammed Siraj for the second seamer’s slot. “It’s true that Siraj has done well in Australia but if there are no fitness issues with Ishant, his experience will help him get the nod for the first Test with Jasprit Bumrah,” the source indicated.
For England though, things are way more straight forward when it comes to their bowling department. With Ben Stokes being the pace bowling all-rounder, they are almost certain to play two pacers and two spinners. James Anderson and Jofra Archer will lead the pace attack with offie Dom Bess and left-arm spinner Jack Leach filling the two spinners’ slots.
Archer, though, didn’t want to comment on how the pitch would play so early. “We had a first look today and a lot could change from now till Friday,” Archer kept his cards close to his chest.