After taking a 2-1 lead at Oval in the five-match series, Virat Kohli & Co aim to wrap up series with another win at Manchester, beginning Friday. With the conditions set to be overcast with chances of intermittent rain, Kohli is all set to retain his four-seamer template but it is Ajinkya Rahane’s whose place is in question. The vice-captain is going through a rough patch and is all set to be rested — rather replaced — for the 5th Test at Manchester. In addition, one of the stars of the Oval Test, Jasprit Bumrah is also set to be rested.
While the batting coach Vikram Rathour backed the out-of-form Ajinkya Rahane, the team management doesn’t want his form to affect the result of the Manchester Test. Virat Kohli & Co have a golden opportunity to win the Test series in England after 14 years. But as Ajinkya Rahane is the weak link in the Playing XI at present, he is set to get the boot with either Hanuma Vihari or Suryakumar Yadav getting the nod.
- Ajinkya Rahane, the top scorer for India in the first WTC cycle, has endured a poor run in England.
- In seven innings, Ajinkya Rahane has scored 109 runs at an average of just 15.57 with the highest score of 61.
- In fact, in the series, he has registered three single-digit scores including a duck besides two below 20 scores.
- His lack of runs has put the lower order under pressure. Had it not been for Shardul Thakur in the Oval Test, India wouldn’t have put up a 191-run total in the first innings.
- His batting technique has also been questioned by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar.
India have two options at their disposal — Hanuma Vihari and Suryakumar Yadav. While Hanuma Vihari is accustomed to the conditions having been in England since May, he is the best candidate to replace Rahane. But he too hasn’t had a great run in England. In County matches, he scored 0 & 8, 32 & 52, 8 & 0 while in the warm-up match for India, he only scored 24 & 43*.
Suryakumar Yadav on the other hand hasn’t played red-ball cricket since 2020 Ranji Trophy although he has been in prime form in white-ball cricket. Furthermore, Suryakumar Yadav doesn’t have any experience of playing in England. Throwing him at difficult conditions could be detrimental. But the team management could explore this option after Playing Ravindra Jadeja at No 5 failed miserably in the Oval Test.
The other potential change is Jasprit Bumrah. His 6-3-6-2 spell after lunch rattled England in the 4th Test. He is India’s highest wicket-taker of the series for India with 18 scalps. But he has already bowled 151 overs in the series, third-highest. With the IPL 2021 and T20 World Cup coming, the team management and the BCCI are not ready to take any risk. As Mohammed Shami was rested for the 4th Test, Jasprit Bumrah is likely to be rested to manage his workload.
In his place, Shami will come back in while Umesh Yadav is expected to retain his place considering he bowled well, taking six wickets in the match.