Ind vs Eng: Will Shikhar Dhawan make it into the playing 11 for the first Test?
There is a possibility that dashing opener Shikhar Dhawan will be left out of the playing 11 today as India seek to become the first sub-continental team to win a Test at Birmingham, Edgbaston
The city of Birmingham is all about innovations. It was here the first pen, the first electrical horn, the first Cadbury, and the first mobile vacuum originated. Over the next five days, India will try and create their own history as they attempt to become the first team from the sub-continent to defeat England at Edgbaston.
Passionate home crowd
The match will also be England's 1000th Test and the home side could not have asked for a better venue to mark the historical fixture. England have not lost here for over a decade and the passionate home crowd in the Hollies Stand is often been labelled as England's 12th man. But if there is one team that is not bothered about such records, it is the current Indian team.
Cheteshwar Pujara with India's head coach Ravi Shastri yesterday
On the eve of the match, much of the debate revolved around the best playing XI for the conditions. While the pitch may have a brownish look, it is learned that there is a covering of grass and the intermittent rains that have passed through the city of Birmingham over the past few days means there is bound to be a touch of moisture. Despite all the talk about Kuldeep Yadav, India is set to stick with three fast bowlers — Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohd Shami. Hardik Pandya will play the supporting role to the pace battery as the all-rounder with R Ashwin playing as the sole-spinner.
The other big decision the team needs to make is about the No. 3 spot. KL Rahul's form and his sheer weight of runs across all formats means he has every chance to edge out Cheteshwar Pujara. Murali Vijay is a certain starter, but Shikhar Dhawan could be pushed out if the team management believes Pujara and Rahul need to find a place in the XI.
Both Pujara and Dhawan have had a torrid time in the nets in the last couple of days, but the Indian camp is convinced that Dhawan is a genuine match-winner and can blow the game wide open in a short span of time. Whichever way India go, captain Virat Kohli made it clear that his team will not regret any decisions as it tries to be the first Indian team to win at the fortress that is Edgbaston. "If we take a decision today, we're not going to sit down tomorrow and say, 'Oh we could have done that.' We don't act like that. That's why we've been pushing forward as a team," he said. He seemed logical, profound. It also means that reputations won't matter when it comes to playing the best XI. Get ready to be surprised today.
Dale Steyn speaks about his seven-wicket spell in Nagpur Test