Matches (15)
WI vs SA (1)
IPL (1)
County DIV1 (3)
County DIV2 (4)
T20WC Warm-up (3)
CE Cup (3)

Poll: Ashwin or Chahar? And does Hardik fit in if he can't bowl?

Have your say - what should India's XI for the game against Pakistan be?

R Ashwin celebrates an Australian wicket with his team-mates, Dubai, October 20, 2021

India have any number of options to fill their playing XI, each as good as the others  •  AFP/Getty Images

Options are endless with the Indian squad, what with their IPL experience with different combinations. You can argue for Ishan Kishan and/or Virat Kohli to open just as much as you can argue to keep KL Rahul in the middle given his versatility; you can even argue for Rohit Sharma and/or Kohli to not be there in the starting XI. You can argue for Hardik Pandya as a pure batter on his potential just as much as you can argue against him on current form even if he is available to bowl. You can argue for R Ashwin's experience, Varun Chakravarthy's mystery or Rahul Chahar's wristspin; you can argue for more than one of them too. So let's be realistic with this poll, restrict it to only the slots that are open according to the team management.
For that we need to take on face value what Kohli said at the toss in India's first warm-up match: Rahul, Rohit and Kohli are locked in as the top three, in that order. And Jasprit Bumrah as the lead seamer and Ravindra Jadeja as the allrounder at No. 7 are not in any doubt.
What about the middle order?
These are more situational spots based on overs left in the innings and match-ups rather than fixed batting numbers. If Hardik bowls - Rohit said before the second warm-up match that he would - it will make the choice easier. The other options are Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Kishan.
What should the spin attack look like?
Chennai Super Kings, the IPL 2021 champions, used only their spin-bowling allrounders in Dubai, but India will surely employ more spin beyond just Jadeja. Conditions will determine if they pick one or two specialist spinners, and they have got three choices. Chahar is a quick wristspinner but without a great IPL behind him, Chakravarthy is a mystery spinner in great form but doesn't have a lot of experience, and Ashwin has a lot of experience but he is a fingerspinner who was not finishing his quota against right-hand-dominated batting line-ups in the IPL.
Bumrah, and who else?
The number of spinners and the number of fast bowlers are connected questions. Bumrah is a certainty but India will need at least one - and likely two - more quicks. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has the experience of bowling in the powerplay and at the death. Mohammed Shami can extract any help there might be for fast bowlers. Shardul Thakur has impressed with his canniness and was picked belatedly after the selectors realised they were one fast bowler short.