Former India head coach Ravi Shastri has expressed his belief that the Indian cricket team, led by Rohit Sharma, should consider including both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the playing eleven for the highly anticipated World Test Championship final against Australia. The match is scheduled to take place at The Oval from June 7-11.
In addition to the ace off-spinner Ashwin and top-ranked all-rounder Jadeja, India's 15-player squad also includes left-arm spin all-rounder Axar Patel. Shastri, speaking on The ICC Review show, emphasized the importance of considering the weather conditions in England and the track conditions at The Oval when finalizing the team composition.
"If the track is hard and dry, you would want two spinners to play for sure. I think it goes a lot with the weather in England. I believe it's sunny now at the moment, but you know, English weather, how it can change in the month of June. So there's a very good chance India will go with two spinners, two fast bowlers, and an all-rounder. That will be the combination. And then there'll be five batsmen and the wicket-keeper, so six batsmen," explained Shastri.
The former head coach, who was at the helm when India secured victory against England in the fourth Test at The Oval, highlighted the significance of the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and suggested that another spinner could fill the void left by the fast bowler.
"India did very well in England last time round because you had Bumrah, you had Shami, you had Shardul Thakur, and you had Mohammed Siraj. So you had four fast bowlers. One being an all-rounder there, Shardul. That combination is a very good combination in England, especially from India's point of view. It allows someone like Rohit Sharma to control the game far better. At times in England, you need to slow it down as well. And suddenly it can get overcast," stated Shastri.
He further emphasized the importance of having a well-rounded squad, considering the quality of Ashwin and Jadeja in the spin department.
"With horses for courses, you've got all bases covered. But then if the quality is not good in your fast-bowling attack, if you think the guys are older, they are not as quick as they used to be, and the form is a little doubtful, then you play that second spinner because Ashwin is quality, as is Jadeja," Shastri added.
With Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, and Shreyas Iyer sidelined due to injuries, the expected batting lineup for India would likely feature Shubman Gill opening with Rohit Sharma, followed by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane at numbers three, four, and five respectively.
Shastri commended Rahane's recent performances and highlighted his earned place in the Test side after being out of the team since January 2022.
"The way he's timed the ball, the way he's looking at T20 from a different perspective. He's not looking at the number of runs; he's looking at the number of balls he's playing as against that. What is the strike rate with those number of balls he's played, which is good and which augurs well," Shastri acknowledged.
As the much-anticipated final approaches, Shastri emphasized that application will be the key for the Indian team if they aim to surpass their runners-up finish in the 2021 W
Ravi Shastri's predicted India XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, KS Bharat (wk), Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj.