World Test Championship

Three left-field selection options India may consider at World Test Championship final

World Test Championship

By Jonathan Healy

Hit For Six!

With star pacer Jasprit Bumrah already ruled out through injury and a number of places in their batting order yet to be set, India have some crucial decisions to make when selecting their final XI to take on Australia in the ICC World Test Championship final in June.

We look at three India players that weren't utilised - or were used sparingly - during the recent Border-Gavaskar Test series against Australia that may come into contention should selectors opt to shake up the side under the different conditions expected in the Ultimate Test at The Oval.

Hardik Pandya

Pandya may not have played a Test match for his country since 2018, but the talented all-rounder is a proven match-winner and could easily fill a number of roles for his side should he be selected.

The 29-year-old could slot in seamlessly in India's middle-order, but it is with the ball that the right-armer could have his biggest impact.

Pandya shone with the ball on the big stage at last year's ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and could provide India with a valuable fourth pace option if winning selection.

It would be a bit of a wildcard choice if Pandya is selected and if in fact his body is up to the rigours of five-day cricket, but he has shown he can have an impact at the highest level and a surprise selection could prove the difference between India winning and losing the high-stakes Test.

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Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya find the fence as India look to accelerate against England.

Shardul Thakur

Three of Thakur's eight Test appearances for India have come in England and the talented pacer is sure to be considered for selection given he provides an extra quality option with the ball and is more than capable with the bat.

Ex-India coach Ravi Shastri recently said on The ICC Review that Thakur will be considered by selectors for the one-off World Test Championship final, and former wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik added further substance to this by declaring the 31-year-old should replace in-form all-rounder Axar Patel.

It appears Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will be the first two seamers picked by India, with Thakur in the running alongside Umesh Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat for the third and final place in India's pace attack.

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KL Rahul

While Rahul has seemingly been overtaken by Shubman Gill as Rohit Sharma's preferred partner at the top of India's batting order, there is still at least one place up for grabs in their middle-order that the talented right-hander could potentially fill.

Australia great Ricky Ponting pointed to Rahul's excellent record in England on a recent episode of The ICC Review and believes both he and Gill can be selected in the same side for the one-off Test match.

Rahul has scored two of his seven Test centuries in England - including an impressive 149 at The Oval in 2018 - and with injury concerns still surrounding middle-order incumbent Shreyas Iyer, the experienced 30-year-old could still come into contention.

Rahul managed scores of 20,17 and 1 during three recent innings against Australia at home
Rahul managed scores of 20,17 and 1 during three recent innings against Australia at home


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