India in England 2014 July 25, 2014

Rohit Sharma likely to play at Ageas Bowl

Signs from India's training sessions suggest they are ready to move back to their preferred combination of six specialist batsmen and four specialist bowlers

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Should India play Rohit or Ashwin?

Stuart Binny has bowled only 20 overs in two Tests of this series. In the second innings at Lord's, he was not called upon to bowl at all.

Although he has played a match-saving innings, signs from India's training sessions leading into the Test suggest they are ready to go back to the more orthodox combination of playing six specialist batsmen with MS Dhoni batting at No. 7 and with four specialist bowlers to follow.

The sixth batsman, if India carry on with the trends from the nets, will be Rohit Sharma, who has scored two centuries in his six Tests but was left out to accommodate the extra seam-bowling allrounder.

Leading into the first two Tests, India seemed more or less certain about the combination. While the likely playing XI would get into action right away after the ritual warm-up over a football game, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and R Ashwin would await their turn in the nets. Just before Ageas Bowl, though, Rohit has been getting long hits in the nets. On Friday, he was the first one to get a net.

One of the reasons to go back to the orthodox combination could be that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been providing the runs down the order, and the quick bowlers have maintained a certain amount of intensity over long spells, which was one of MS Dhoni's concerns over the last two tours outside Asia.

Also, the pitch at Ageas Bowl is more orthodox than Trent Bridge and Lord's. Trent Bridge looked brown and flat, which might have necessitated the buffer of an extra seamer so that the main pace bowlers did not bowl themselves into ground. Lord's was green, probably greener than it ever has been, which would have meant ideal conditions for Binny, who likes to put the ball there and let the conditions take effect.

Ageas Bowl is a hard, quick pitch with good bounce, but it not overly green to afford excessive seam movement. India seem pretty happy about the surface. In a long Test series, they do not want their bowlers to have to slog for their wickets.

India could of course go ahead and change the combination on the morning of the match, but Binny has hardly been getting the attention of the coaches that he got in the lead-up to the first two Tests. In fact, he did not even get a hit in the main net on Friday.

As far as the role of bowling a few tight overs when waiting for the new ball goes, India will have to rely on Rohit's offspin. Not to mention M Vijay, who took Moeen Ali's crucial wicket at Lord's and has been bowling more in the nets than usual.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajnish_aggarwal on July 27, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    If India wants to bring in Rohit Sharma then let it be in Place of Virat Kohli who has developed a fault line which any fast bowler will exploit. Now we have to see whether the pitch will likely to have some spin in it or not. If it does support spin then Ashwin may be preferred to Binny. Secondly, Indian bowlers were not able to swing the ball even 50% of that what English men did. So we must try Varun Aaron in place of Mohd Shami. He has good pace and mostly bowls up and swing better. Binny had shown with the bat how good in technique he is. Dhoni should give him more bowling. If India adds another batsman in place of an allrounder then every batsman becomes casual and the advantage of extra batsman is lost in no time. We have seen enough of our batsman including Murali Vijay playing casually and getting out when side is packed with more batsmen. With one batsman less even alrounders like B Kumar, Jadeja and Binny have dug in. Similarly Murali Vijay never played like he is doing now.

  • Henry_Mancini on July 27, 2014, 5:18 GMT


    But I realise I've now completely entered a fantasy situation by suggesting too much change to the batting order. And probably such drastic changes aren't needed at this stage.

    Perhaps Dhawan does need another chance too? If he fires, the psychological advantage would be significant.

    As for the 20 wickets conundrum, yes, we did get those wickets without the assistance of Binny (dropped catch not withstanding). But we shouldn't think we can keep doing it regularly. I think three pacers plus Ashwin and Jadeja could be a good combination. Try to strangle them with spin if pace fails.

    England might come at us harder this time. They have no other option really. Therefore we must be prepared. We can't expect them to fold every time.

    Ultimately, I just wish whichever playing XI is selected give it their absolute best and are assisted by appropriate tactics from Dhoni.

    I won't care if we fight hard and lose so long as we fight.

    I dare say we have fought well so far.

  • android_user on July 27, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    I would take gambir in place of dhawan and ashwin in place of binny

  • android_user on July 27, 2014, 5:14 GMT

    Better to have w saha as specialist batsmen rather than Rohit Sharma who is sleeping wicket

  • Henry_Mancini on July 27, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    Not sure what to think now...

    I was wrong about Dhoni and Ishant the last match. I said if we won it would be in spite of Dhoni rather than because of him and also offered the customary lamentations about Ishant's consistency. I don't care what part "luck" or English capitulation played in our long awaited victory as it was also clear that several Indian players were equally responsible for putting us in a position to win. It's often said that people make their own luck. Pleasantly surprised that Dhoni risked a loss for a win and that Ishant did his part. I would dearly like to see more of this positive attitude more often. As I eat my words I say well played to both of them for the last match. Keep it up.

    I agree with those who suggest Ashwin for Binny and Pankaj or Aaron for Shami. Shami seems under the pump and might need a rest. Binny hasn't threatened. Ashwin can bat and deserves the chances others have been given. Rohit in for Dhawan sounds good but who would open?


  • android_user on July 27, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    MSD needed an allrounder-it was not binny, but it was bhuvi. Now have bhuvi as the allrounder and have a bowler-varun or ashwin in place of binny depending on the conditions. rohit is a waste in treat matches-like yuvraj

  • CricketFanIndUS on July 26, 2014, 22:57 GMT

    Good luck Rohit! This is likely going to be the quickest wicket of the series. It will likely produce a result as well. England will come out with all guns blazing. My only prediction is it will be a very closely contested match.

  • bhushanB on July 26, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    It would be utterly insane to drop binny and go back to 6 batsmen formula. India seems to take a step forward and then 10 backward. If India could manage with 5 batsmen on such a lively pitch at Lords, that should boost their confidence in their batsmen. Taking 20 wickets is the top priority.

    If Rohit HAS TO PLAY, then it better be in KOHLI's place or RAHANEs'. Can Dhoni do that?

    If Ashwin HAS TO PLAY, then it better be in JADEJA's place.

    I would not mind giving Shami a rest and get either Pankaj or Pandey in the side.

    If at all Binny has to make way, then it should be to a genuine pace bowler, but not to either Rohit or Ashwin.

  • vkumar_086 on July 26, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    5 batsmen---Dhawan, vijay, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane + wicket keeper--Dhoni + 2 spinners (bowling allrounders)--Jadeja, Ashwin + 3 seamers---Bhuvi, Ishant, Shami/ Pankaj singh should be the is well balanced also

  • Kangroos.Proteas.Monkeys.Lions on July 26, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    India cant go bowling heavy unless they are sure that shortened batting lineup can survive. First test was saved by Binny innings. So either binny or ashwin are necessary to add to batting and bowling. I am pankaj for shami. Lords test was heading towards indian loss till the time english decided to commit the mass suicide against bouncers. So, india need runs in large numbers to keep them safe no matter how they come- top order, middle order lower order etc.

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