3 players who could be surprise picks for India's Test XI vs England.
Captain Virat Kohli will lead Team India in England for a blockbuster tour from July-September 2018 that will see our boys in blue play 3 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 5 Tests. Apart from the South Africa tour, this will be Kohli's first major overseas assignment as captain, and he will be raring to put on a good show.
While the squad for the Test series hasn't been named yet, regulars like Vijay, Pujara, Ashwin and Shami are set to be back. With limited places up for grabs, we take a look at 3 players who may just get a look-in for this crucial series:
#1 Dinesh Karthik
A year ago, if one had spoken about Dinesh Karthik being a contender for India's World Cup squad, he would have been scoffed at and made fun of. Fast forward 12 months, and not only is Karthik in the form of his life, but could also be India's solution to a keeper-batsman in the longest format of the game.
Following his heroics in the Nidahas Trophy final and a dream season with the bat for IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, Karthik has earned himself a test recall against Afghanistan, owing to Wriddhiman Saha's injury.
This may well be the perfect, and final, opportunity for the 32-year-old veteran to put himself in contention for a spot in the Test squad, ahead of tours to England and Australia. Technically sound and composed at the crease, Karthik could be India's solution to the No. 5 position, where Rahane, Rohit and Saha have tried and failed to be consistent.
With regards to the England tour, Kohli will be keen to accommodate a pace battery of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bumrah and Umesh Yadav, which would mean picking only 6 batsmen. For all his wicket-keeping abilities, Saha has been disappointing with the bat, averaging only 30.63 from 46 innings with a shocking strike rate of 44.60.
Dinesh Karthik is good enough with the gloves, but what could see him picked ahead of Saha is his superior batting ability, apart from the fact that he has already toured England thrice before. If Karthik performs well against Afghanistan, and in the limited overs games against England, it may be enough to see him picked ahead of the returning Saha.
Karthik averages 43.83 in tests in England, and if picked could provide much-needed stability to a fragile middle order.