With the highly anticipated World Test Championship (WTC) final just around the corner, former India all-rounder and head coach Ravi Shastri has unveiled his intriguing combined XI, featuring players from the finalists, India and Australia, leaving no room for Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill. Shastri’s choices for the combined playing XI have raised eyebrows, with Rohit Sharma selected as the captain.
Australia, having topped the current ICC World Test Championship cycle, will face India, who are vying for the title for the second consecutive time.
Talking about Rohit’s captaincy, Shastri said,
“I would give the captaincy to Rohit because he’s much more experienced than Pat. He’s been around and he’s captained sides for a long time. If Steve Smith was captain of Australia, then maybe it’s a different story, but since it’s Pat Cummins and Rohit Sharma, Rohit wins it. Plus, you know, as a captain, you’re a certainty in the XI so he opens the batting.”
The opening pair comprises Rohit Sharma and Usman Khawaja. Meanwhile, Marnus Labuschagne occupies the crucial number three position, leaving no room for Cheteshwar Pujara. Talking about Shubman Gill’s exclusion, Shastri said,
“It’s a tight one between Usman Khawaja and Shubman Gill. Shubman is the rising young star and he’s a terrific player, but Usman Khawaja, just by current form and the number of runs he’s got over the last couple of years, I think he gets in there.”
The middle order is spearheaded by Virat Kohli at number four, followed by Steve Smith at number five. Ravindra Jadeja is the sole all-rounder in the lineup, while Alex Carey takes charge of the wicketkeeping duties.
In the bowling department, the Australian contingent dominates, with Nathan Lyon earning the nod over Ravichandran Ashwin.
“The reason why I picked Nathan Lyon ahead of Ashwin is because of Nathan’s overseas record. Not just in Australia, but outside Australia and (Lyon is) probably stronger to bowl those overs in England if needed.”
Shastri’s combined XI reflects his strategic approach and sets the stage for an exhilarating clash in the forthcoming WTC final.
Ravi Shastri’s Combined India-Australia XI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Alex Carey (wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Mohammed Shami