Before announcing his side, Sanjay Manjrekar gave the caveat that he is making the choice presuming that the conditions – pitch and weather – at the Ageas Bowl will be typically English and as one would expect it to be.
“I’m assuming you have typical English conditions. I’m assuming there will be a mixture of sun and cloudy cover throughout the five days of the Test match if it goes the distance. So, I’m picking the team accordingly,” Sanjay Manjrekar said in a chat with ESPNCricinfo.
He picked the expected six players of the top seven – Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant – with Hanuma Vihari for extra batting cushion and he can also offer part-time off-spin.
The 55-year-old went with Ravichandran Ashwin as the sole spinner while dropping Ravindra Jadeja from the side.
“Going to have Hanuma Vihari to reward him for his brilliant innings before he got injured. India will need somebody with more compact defensive technique. Because the guys at the top of the order, barring Pujara, aren’t those kinds.
“So, I will have Hanuma Vihari at number 6. Pant at 7, considering India have hardly had any practice game. I just want to make sure the batting runs deep,” Sanjay Manjrekar explained.
Sanjay Manjrekar opts for Mohammed Siraj over Ishant Sharma
Sanjay Manjrekar also said that although he believes that the management will go with the experience of Ishant Sharma, he would prefer to see Mohammed Siraj, who took his maiden five-for in the Brisbane Test, in the line-up over Ishant.
He asserted that all the premier Indian pacers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Ishant Sharma, are hit the deck bowlers, and hence the Siraj’s ability to move the ball laterally will provide a different dimension to the bowling attack.
“Want Siraj, the swing bowler to be brought into the equation, and the last time Siraj bowled overseas in Australia, [he] got a five-wicket haul. Hard to leave a bowler like him out.
“You will be tempted to think of Siraj because when you look at Shami, Bumrah and Ishant, they are more seam bowlers, hit-the-deck kind of bowler. Siraj might offer something different. I would go with Siraj, but India might play Ishant for obvious reasons,” the cricketer-turned-commentator stated.
Sanjay Manjrekar’s India XI for WTC final:
Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.