Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has unveiled his combined Test XI, comprising players from the two ICC World Test Championship finalists, India and Australia. With the highly anticipated WTC final on the horizon, Shastri faced the challenging task of selecting the best players from both teams. After careful consideration, he settled on a final XI, featuring four Indian cricketers and seven Australians.
One of the standout decisions was appointing Rohit Sharma as the captain, favoring his experience over Australian counterpart Pat Cummins. Shastri justified his choice, stating, "I would give the captaincy to Rohit because he's much more experienced than Pat. He's been around and he's captained sides for a long time." As captain, Rohit also secured a spot as one of the two openers.
The selection of the opening partner alongside Rohit proved to be a tough call. Shastri acknowledged the strong contenders, including David Warner, Usman Khawaja, and Shubman Gill. However, Khawaja's impressive form and run-scoring ability earned him the nod.
The middle-order positions were relatively straightforward, with Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, and Steve Smith occupying numbers three, four, and five, respectively. Shastri highlighted Labuschagne's outstanding performance in Test cricket and lauded Kohli and Smith for their consistent contributions over the years.
Ravindra Jadeja claimed the number six spot, adding balance to the team with his all-round abilities. Shastri emphasized Jadeja's prowess as one of the best all-rounders in the world. The wicket-keeping duties went to Australia's Alex Carey, who secured the number seven position.
In the spinning department, Shastri opted for Nathan Lyon over Ravichandran Ashwin, citing Lyon's impressive overseas record. Jadeja was chosen as the second spinner, providing versatility to the team.
The pace attack comprised Pat Cummins and Mohammed Shami, who were regarded as top-class operators. Shastri praised Shami's consistent improvement and vintage form. Mitchell Starc's left-arm pace and variety secured his place, completing the pace trio.
Shastri admitted that finalizing the XI was challenging, considering the world-class players left out, such as Ashwin, Josh Hazlewood, and Cheteshwar Pujara. However, he emphasized the importance of balance and felt confident in his selection.
As the WTC final approaches, fans eagerly await the clash between India and Australia to determine which team will emerge victorious. Shastri's combined XI showcases the immense talent and depth present in both sides, setting the stage for an exciting battle at The Oval.
Ravi Shastri combined India-Australia Test XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mohammad Shami