While Aakash Chopra has been advocating the five-bowler theory in the build-up to the England Tests, he has opined that Team India must go in with an extra batter for the first Test. According to Chopra, since it is the opening game and India’s preparations have not been ideal, they need that extra cushion.
India have been hampered by fitness and injury issues ahead of the first Test in Nottingham. A couple of days before the start of the series, Mayank Agarwal was ruled out of the opening game after being hit on the helmet during a net session.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Chopra reckoned that Team India ought to be a bit cautious since this is the start of a long series. He explained:
“Due to the lack of preparations, maybe five bowlers is not a great thinking, just for the first Test match. If there is a dry and flat pitch then it’s a different matter but if there is grass, I would be very tempted to play six batsmen, a wicketkeeper and four bowlers – three pacers and a spinner. I will go with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma with Ravichandran Ashwin as the spinner.”
“Rishabh Pant can bat at seven. He hasn’t batted since the WTC final in June. He had COVID and didn’t play the side game too. Team India can’t take a chance with him at No.6 in the first match. The Indians need to bat at least five sessions to get in a position to win a game. As for the opening issue, KL Rahul should open with Rohit Sharma.”
India must play it a bit safe in first Test: Aakash Chopra
The former India cricketer explained that the batting form of the current line-up is another reason why Team India might need additional back-up. Chopra elaborated:
“KL Rahul will be playing Test cricket after a long time. Also, for Rohit Sharma, this will be only his second Test as opener in England. Virat Kohli did not play the side game due to injury and did not score too many in the WTC final as well. Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara’s England numbers are not great. So I will go batting-heavy. This the first match. Team India can tread with caution and then keep changing.”
Team India are chasing their first Test series win in England since 2007. They crumbled to a 1-4 series defeat during their previous visit to the country in 2018.