Visakhapatnam, Nov 17: With skipper Virat Kohli making it abundantly clear that fit again opener KL Rahul is team's first choice as an opener, the latter is likely to make a comeback into the side as India they take on a gritty England in the second cricket Test, starting here on Wednesday (Nov 17).
With the pitch at the ACA-VDCA ground is expected to be a rank turner after skipper Virat Kohli expressed his displeasure about the Rajkot strip where Indian spinners got a total nine wickets with four English batsmen scoring hundreds, there is a possibility that India will play 3 spinners. (Preview: 2nd Test)
Questions were also raised over India's frontline spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who failed to make an impression in the opening Test and leaked runs.
Thus, the no. 1 Test bowler in the world must be desperate to prove his mettle. While leg spinner Amit Mishra, who was almost unplayable when India last played the fifth and final ODI against New Zealand, would be hoping to repeat his the same.
Kohli didn't reveal anything about the team selection for the second Test, but the skipper he admitted that there will be some surprise inclusions.
"I can't really say anything about the team selection right now. We will have our team meeting in the evening and will make the final decisions then. But you can expect some surprise selections as well," he added.
Here is what India's Playing XI might look like on Thursday:
1. Murali Vijay - the automatic choice as opener:
Centurion in the first Test against England, Murali Vijay clearly fits into the team's scheme of things. The Tamil Nadu batsman, who has developed a knack for starting things patiently, would be opening the innings for India at Visakhapatnam.
Vijay scored 126 in 301 balls and 31 in 71 deliveries in the first Test against England.
2. KL Rahul - the first choice as opener:
Skipper Virat Kohli made it clear that KL Rahul is team's first choice opener and comes back into the side. The Karnataka batsman, who returned from injury, slammed 76 and 106 in the Ranji Trophy match which earned him a spot in the squad.
"We had it pretty clear in our heads that KL is our number one choice alongwith M Vijay. He is fit at any stage, he comes back into the team and we are going to start with him. Be it pulling him out of a first-class game in between," Kohli told media persons on Wednesday.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara:
Like M Vijay, Pujara too slammed a century in the previous game against England and his form against England is incredible. He too will be making it to the squad.
4. Virat Kohli:
India's most sucessfull batsman in the past couple of years and future ODI captain, Virat Kohli, is irreplaceable at No. 4. Continuing from where he left in Rajkot, the 'Run Machine' would be desperate to play a big knock against England.
5. Ajinkya Rahane:
He failed to impress in the first Test against England and the right-handed Mumbai batsman would try to stamp his authority over England bowlers.
6. Wriddhiman Saha:
The wicketkeeper batsman has emerged as a mature cricketer and proved his worth in the side time and again.
7. Ravichandran Ashwin:
Questions are being raised about Ravichandran Ashwin's ability to get wickets on a good track after finishing with underwhelming match figures of 3/230. The no. 1 Test bowler would be hungry to prove his dominance on Indian pitches again.
8. Ravindra Jadeja:
Jadeja will be doing his usual job of second spinner and a utility batsman in the second Test as well.
9. Amit Mishra:
He who was almost unplayable when India last played the fifth and final ODI against New Zealand, would be hoping to repeat his the same. The leg spinner didn't have good time at Rajkot but expect a good show from him at Vizag.
10. Umesh Yadav:
The right-arm pacer is Virat Kohli's favourite when it comes to strengthening pace battery. He will certainly make it to the playing XI.
11. Mohammad Shami:
The Bengal seamer is India's frontline pacer and he will once again carry the responsibility on his shoulders to get England's wickets early.
12th Man: Hardik Pandya:
The Baroda all-rounder can get a chance to make his Test debut if the team wants to play an extra batsman. Hardik has improved his bowling performance and who knows skipper Kohli springs a surprise in Pandya on Thursday morning.