India have recalled a big name among the 15 players selected in their squad but have more tough decisions to come for the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia.
India to back spinners or quicks
India have a critical call to make on whether to take one, two or perhaps even three spinners into the WTC final in the typically swing and seam-friendly conditions in England.
Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have all been included in the squad after each played a pivotal role in the recent 2-1 Test series victory over Australia on home soil, and will hope to have done enough to seal their spots at The Oval.
It will be difficult to discount the spin twins Ashwin and Jadeja that demoralised Australia with a combined 47 wickets in India during the Border-Gavaskar series before the WTC final, but a green-top may well make the decision for India.
Axar (three wickets at 62 in series against Australia) was by no means as prolific, though put together 264 runs at 88 in the series, and would provide insurance from a batting point of view.
Left-arm pacer a left-field option
While India will miss Jasprit Bumrah as he continues his rehabilitation from a back injury, India still have a plethora of quick-bowling options.
Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Umesh Yadav have been selected as the leading pacers with Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat the likely back ups.
Shami was the pick of the India quicks in the series against Australia with nine wickets, and has the experience of playing in a WTC final after taking on New Zealand in 2021.
Siraj missed out on that decider but bounced back to take 18 scalps against England in the five Tests played across 2021 and 2022, while Yadav has impressed with his recent impact.
But India have left themselves room to spice up their pace attack with the addition of medium pacer Jaydev Unadkat.
While the 31-year-old has only played two Tests - the first in 2010 and the second against Bangladesh in December last year - the left-armer would add useful variety to the line-up.
Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Yadav have been preferred in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, but with all three of them being right-arm quicks India may look to a leftfield option for the WTC decider.
White-ball wonder fails to take his chances
Late bloomer Suryakumar Yadav is No.1 in the ICC MRF Tyres T20I Batting Rankings and has become a regular feature in the India ODI line-up since making his debut in both formats in 2021, but is yet to secure his place in the Test team.
The 32-year-old made his belated debut in the first Test against Australia in February but after making eight runs in India’s only innings was left out for the remaining three matches of the series.
Yadav later hindered rather than helped his chances in three ODIs that followed the Test series, with three successive ducks.
With Yadav failing to make the most of recent opportunities in all formats, it is little wonder the T20I star has been left out of the squad for the winner-takes-all WTC final, but past performances on the biggest stages suggest he will have more chances in the future.
Rahane re-enters, though how will the batting order be comprised?
After an absence from the Test side since January 2022, Ajinkya Rahane has earned a recall to the India squad, though a selection in the playing XI is far from certain, given the collective strength of the batting group.
The opening role with Rohit Sharma is up for debate, though if Shubman Gill was to join the skipper at the top, it would likely mean Rahane slides into the middle order, with KL Rahul sitting out.
Gill is the in-form man after his century against Australia in Ahmedabad, though from the outside looks more flexible in terms of different batting roles, meaning there is also a chance of both Rahul and Gill featuring, leaving Rahane to run drinks.
India’s Test squad WTC final: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, K L Rahul, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat.
Whilst unlikely given the difficulty of keeping in England, India could go bold and hand Rahul the gloves, leaving out KS Bharat and including both Rahane and Gill.
Even with all this considered, there's also discussion to be had surrounding the No.6 position.
Ravindra Jadeja batted there for the home Border-Gavaskar series, though only compiled 135 at 27 across five innings. In English conditions, there may be a discussion of moving Jadeja and KS Bharat down a spot, beefing up the batting.