England vs India: Jasprit Bumrah in focus as India sans Rohit Sharma train ahead of Birmingham Test


India trained in Edgbaston for the first time on Wednesday, June 29 ahead of the rescheduled 5th Test against England. With Rahul Dravid overseeing the preparations, the Test stars hit the training ground in a session that included net practice.

Jasprit Bumrah was the man in focus in the training session as the star pacer is likely to lead India in the Birmingham Test, starting July 1. The Mumbai Indians pacer, who has picked up 123 wickets in 29 Tests, was India’s vice-captain during the 3-Test series in South Africa earlier this year. Bumrah will become the first fast bowler since Kapil Dev in 1987 to lead the Test side.

Rohit Sharma, who had tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday during India’s 4-day practice match in Leicestershire, was a notable absentee from the training session. Rohit entered isolation at the team hotel with the BCCI medical team monitoring his health.

According to reports, Rohit Sharma is unlikely to lead India but the team management is expected to take a call on his availability after another test for the virus on the eve of the Test. Rohit’s mandatory 5-day isolation period, according to the UK government guidelines, ends on Wednesday.

Regulars of the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari and Shubman Gill were involved in batting practice at the nets as seen in photos from Birmingham.

Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid were spotted keeping a close eye on the proceedings. The former captain is expected to play a key if Rohit is not going to take the field. Kohlli had led India to a 2-1 lead last year in England.

Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid during India’s training session in Birmingham (AP Photo)

Mayank Agarwal, who was flown in as back-up for Rohit Sharma, also batted in the training session while the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur sweat out in the nets, getting into the bowling rhythm.


Mayank batted in the nets during India’s traning session on Wednesday (AP Photo)

It remains to be seen if India will open with Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill if Rohit is unavailable for the 5th Test. India can also ponder the option of opening with either Hanuma Vihari or Pujara.

It is understood that the specialist batters in the set-up will be Pujara, Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Vihari and Rishabh Pant. The only other debatable matter is whether to play a fourth fast-bowling all-rounder in Shardul Thakur or a second spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin alongside Ravindra Jadeja, according to PTI.

India are heading into the 5th Test after having drawn a 4-day practice match against Leicestershire earlier this week. Former captain Virat Kohli impressed with a stroke-filled 2nd innings fifty while KS Bharat, India’s reserve wicketkeeper-batter, stole the show with consistent showings in both innings.

On the other hand, England, led by Ben Stokes, are heading into the finale of the incomplete series from last year after having hammered world Test champions New Zealand 3-0. India lead the series 2-1.

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