Tricky Test of instincts for Jasprit Bumrah
If the injured KL Rahul’s unavailability and existing doubts over Virat Kohli’s form weren’t bad enough, India will now be going into the rescheduled fifth Test versus England in Birmingham without regular captain Rohit Sharma.
Possibilities of Rohit’s absence had emerged ever since he tested Covid-19 positive last Saturday. On Thursday, Rohit underwent another Rapid-Antigen Test and once again tested positive, which ruled him out of the Test beginning on Friday at Edgbaston.
India’s bowling spearhead, Jasprit Bumrah, has been assigned the role of captain with wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant as his deputy.
Rohit’s absence does create a void at the top order as he was India’s best batsman (368 runs with an average of 52.57) when India toured England last year. Along with the collective performance of the quicks, Rohit and Rahul’s solid starts were equally pivotal to India taking a 2-1 lead in the unfinished series last year.
For sure the team management needs to be very careful in reshaping and finalising the top order, particularly as James Anderson is back in England’s XI. The scenario, however, is also an opportune one for Kohli to come up with a special knock, which would help him make a big statement.
Ready for job
For skipper Bumrah, he will have his task cut out in his 30th Test appearance, having to think of field placements and bowling changes besides concentrating on his own bowling. However, the 28-year-old seems ready.
“Eventually, it’s all down to what your instincts tell you and what you think is the right call,” Bumrah stated. “Nothing changes for me. You can help your team by doing your job to the best of your abilities, and that’s what I’m looking to do.”
No doubt, the skipper will again be India’s best bet, especially when it comes to neutralising England’s two best batters at present — former captain Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.
England are set to make two changes in their line-up with Anderson coming in place of Jamie Overton and Sam Billings taking up the wicketkeeper’s gloves as Ben Foakes is out with Covid. But the talking point for England is their approach while batting, which has undergone a massive change since Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s appointment as Test captain and head coach, respectively.
The India bowlers will look to ask the English batsmen more questions than New Zealand’s jaded attack could in the recent series. But Stokes assured there wouldn’t be any change in England’s approach.
“We just beat the best team (reigning World Test Championship winners New Zealand) in the world 3-0. India are obviously a completely different opposition and different dynamic of a team, but we’re concentrating on ourselves. Just because the opposition changes, it doesn’t mean we change too.”
England even threaten to play an even more attacking brand of cricket. “If there’s a team that can, it’s us,” Stokes roared.
Match starts: 3pm IST, live on Sony Six & Sony Ten 3