It’s good to have an embarrassment of riches, a position of plenty to choose from but then the problem is to pick the correct option or options. This is the position of the Indian team management in the West Indies as coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli ponder over the possible team combinations for the first Test starting in Antigua on Thursday.
Should they play an extra batsman? Should they pick four bowlers or five? Should they go in for two spinners or one? These are the questions that the team management will need to tackle always keeping in mind that overall any team must play to its strengths.
There really is no problem at least as far as the top order is concerned. Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul should open the innings and they will be followed by Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. Now is the quandary as to whether the tour selectors should pick both vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. Even Hanuma Vihari cannot totally be ruled out of the equation after scoring 37 not out and 64 in the warm-up game against West Indies A.
Rishabh Pant is a cert and he comes in at No 6 or No 7 depending on whether the extra batsman is picked or not. If the selectors go in for the extra batsman that will reduce the bowling line-up to four. Yes, four bowlers can sometimes take 20 wickets but isn’t it better to have an extra option? Australia for example despite leading 1-0 in the Ashes series are struggling without a fifth bowler option.
An extra batsman might guard against a top order collapse but largely it will be viewed as a safety first measure. Going in with five bowlers is the attacking option but here again should India play two spinners and three pacemen or play four fast bowlers with a lone spinner. If they go in with just four bowlers then it is fairly obvious that the line-up will be three pacemen and just one spinner. Again who should be that spinner?