Ind vs Eng: Virat, Ishant set to be back; all eyes on Bumrah, Ashwin’s fitness

India vs England: Skipper Virat Kohli will be back in action after a well-deserved paternity break while senior pacer Ishant Sharma will return after an injury layoff to headline the pace attack when the Indian team for the first two Test matches against England is picked on Tuesday.

Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin, who could not play the Brisbane Test due to abdominal strain and back spasms respectively, are expected to be available after an extended period of rest before the four-Test series beginning in Chennai from February 5.

However, Mohammed Shami (fractured forearm), Ravidra Jadeja (fractured thumb), Umesh Yadav (calf muscle tear) and Hanuma Vihari (grade 2 muscle tear) will not be available for selection.

The new selection committee, led by Chetan Sharma, aren’t expected to spring too many surprises as most of the fit and available players currently in Australia are automatic picks. Indian selectors led by Chetan Sharma will meet on Tuesday to pick the squad for the first two Tests against England which gets underway at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai from February 5.

The Indian squad will have to enter the bio-bubble on January 27 and with both Test matches in Chennai, the BCCI has decided to name a squad for the first two games (February 5-9 and 13-17) and the squad strength will be around 16-18 along with a few net bowlers.

Ishant, who was out with a side strain, had recently made comeback to competituve cricket with Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and looked in good rhythm. Along with Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, the three will man the pace attack with Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan as reserve pacers.

In the spin department, Jadeja’s like for like replacement will be Shahbaz Nadeem, who had played a Test match against South Africa in 2019. With Ashwin likely to be available and Washington Sundar having a dream debut, the slow bowling department also looks settled with Kuldeep Yadav as the back-up wrist spinner.

The two wicketkeepers will be Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha while for the reserve batsman’s slot, Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul will be vying for a single slot.

Prithvi Shaw is likely to be dropped and will have to go back to domestic cricket and prove himself.

Agarwal is likely to get the nod as the selectors and team management might want KL Rahul, who had a wrist sprain, to play some Vijay Hazare Trophy and get ready for the white ball leg of the series in March.

The meeting will be held 5 pm IST.

Likely Selections

Openers (3): Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal (reserve)

Middle-order (3): Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane (vc)

Wicketkeepers (2): Wriddhiman Saha, Rishabh Pant

All-rounder: Washington Sundar

Pacers (5) : Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, T Natarajan

Spinners: Ravichandran Ashwin, Shahbaz Nadeem, Kuldeep Yadav.