With the awaited Edgbaston Test days away, when hosts England take on India for a five-match Test series, there are questions that would bother team England. India on the other end will look to express themselves and looking at the current form of both the sides and the balance, India looks more settled at this point in time, not that there are no problems for the visitors sans Bhuvneshwar Kumar and not-a-hundred-percent Jasprit Bumrah.Also Read - India's Predicted Playing XI For 1st Test vs England: Mayank Agarwal to Open With Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur May Feature in Virat Kohli-Led Side
Also if India is facing a problem of plenty at the top (Shikhar, Vijay, Pujara, Rahul), England are still undecided as to who should open with Alastair Cook? Also Read - Ben Stokes Takes Indefinite Break From International Cricket, Withdraws From India Series
So here are the big questions that will be looming large in the English camp. Also Read - Prithvi Shaw And Suryakumar Yadav to Fly to England on July 31 on Special Provision
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Who Should Accompany Alastair Cook at the top?
The options for England would be Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings, but unfortunately, none of them showed solidity at the top. Among the two, Jennings showed he was more at ease playing the red-ball, which should work to his advantage. On the other hand, Stoneman’s poor run of form against Pakistan will go against him. Also, not to forget Rory Burns has just led English Lions to a victory against India A, where he also scored a century. Going by recent form, he is expected to get a look in. So in that case, it could be a toss-up between Rory and Jennings.
Like Kuldeep, does Adil Rashid come out of retirement and make it to the squad on basis of his recent form?
Unlike the tours in the past, this time spin is expected to play a big role and hence there were reports of English selector Ed Smith would approach Adil Rashid to come out of his retirement and play for England. Given his current form, that is highly likely to happen. Since the start of 2016, Rashid has taken 119 Championship wickets, that is also a reason why he is considered. Also, being a wrist-spinner, Rashid would be able to extract turn on any given wicket. Apart from him, Somerset’s off-spinner Dom Bess, who played against Pakistan could be picked. Moeen Ali is another candidate that could be taken into consideration.
Will James Anderson and Stuart Broad be fit?
This is a massive question that can the two most experienced seamers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad at the fag end of their career last a five-match long Test series? Both the veterans have had injury issues recently. Anderson has been nursing a wear and tear injury on his shoulder while Broad’s ankle has been causing him some grief. However, their fitness could be the key to English fortunes come the Test series.
Who will be the third seamer — Chris Woakes, Jake Ball or Mark Wood?
This is another question that England selectors would have to answer. While Woakes is nursing an injury that kept him out during the ODI series, Mark Wood stands a good chance of being the third seamer in the lineup. He has the extra pace and can generate reverse swing like he showed against Pakistan at Lords. Not to forget, Jake Ball could also come into contention after an excellent red-ball season for Nottinghamshire.
Court case looming large, should Ben Stokes be picked?
It could be a big risk, but one has to take into consideration the impact Stokes’ inclusion would give. If he is in the starting XI, he will provide the perfect balance as he can bat and then bowl as well. It cannot be confirmed but English captain Joe Root mentioned that the best XI will be picked, if that is the case, Stokes stands a solid chance of making the Edgbaston Test.
Meanwhile, India has already announced an 18-member squad for the first three Tests.
India’s Test squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur