The inaugural World Test Championship Final between India and New Zealand is all set to kick off on June 18 at Southampton. A lot of former cricketers have had their say on the winner of the WTC final 2021. While most of the experts count New Zealand as favorites, Team India's recent away Test performances could prove too hot to handle for the Kiwis.
With an 18-man squad, the Virat Kohli-led side has plenty of options to choose from. However, the starting India playing XI seems largely settled ahead of the WTC final 2021. While only 11 players will get an opportunity in the final, a lot of fringe players might miss out on a spot in the playing XI.
Virat Kohli will be aiming to field his strongest personnel against New Zealand in the marquee clash. The team management might consider the possible match-ups against a potent BlackCaps outfit in order to give themselves the best possible chance to claim the prestigious ICC World Test Championship trophy.
Here is the full India Squad for the World Test Championship final 2021:
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane (VC), Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (Wk), R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul, Wriddhiman Saha
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Here's a look at 3 players who might miss out on a spot in India's playing XI in the WTC Final 2021:
1) Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari has been highly impressive as a middle-order batter for India in the last couple of years. With limited opportunities that have come his way, the Andhra player has grabbed it with both hands to earn that respect in the Indian change room. Despite playing a pivotal role in India's road to the WTC final, Vihari might miss out on a spot in the playing XI against New Zealand.
With a probable strategy of fielding five bowlers, Rishabh Pant will bat at No.6 as a wicket-keeper batsman. The duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin will feature in the line-up as genuine all-rounders at No.7 and 8 respectively. With Pant's rise as a pure batter in Test cricket, it allows India to field an extra bowler which eventually leaves no place for Vihari in the playing XI.
2) KL Rahul
A lot of former cricketers have questioned the selection of KL Rahul in Test cricket, based upon his good show in the limited-overs format. The Karnataka batsman has witnessed a string of failures on away tours of England and Australia. He was dropped after the West Indies tour in 2019 while a few young bright prospects were given an opportunity in the Test squad.
Now when Rahul has been drafted back into the Test squad, it will be tough for him to find a place in the playing XI. The likes of Shubhman Gill and Mayank Agarwal along with Rohit Sharma are front-runners to open the innings for India in the upcoming few Test matches in England including the WTC Final. With a definite middle-order, Rahul is likely to not find a place as a pure batter in India's strongest playing XI.
3) Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav has been one of India's most successful pace bowlers on home soil in the last 3-4 years. However, Yadav's inconsistency has diluted his chances to be considered as a first-choice pacer at the start of any away tour. The resurgence of Jasprit Bumrah and the ever-increasing wicket-tally for Ishant Sharma has forced Umesh to move down the pecking order among the Indian fast bowlers.
The Vidharbha pacer has been good in patches but has failed to exhibit control in his bowling for long periods of time. Even when there are talks about India's plan to start with five specialist bowlers, Yadav is not even close to making India's playing for the WTC final 2021. He will have to warm the benches and wait for his opportunity in the Tests against England.