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18.08.2018  Author: C.NAMASIVAYAM

After India's disgraceful loss in the first two test matches against England, it is now time to pick the playing XI for the third test by default. Ahead of the third test at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, a number of changes in the line up are speculated.

An attempt is made to select the playing XI by way of exclusion and default.

Judging by the performance of the players in the first two tests, 4 players who had played the second test, should be excluded from the Playing XI for the third test. They are Murali Vijay, K.L. Rahul, Dinesh Karthik and Kuldeep Yadav. Rahane deserves to be dropped too but as the Vice-Captain of the team he lives to fight another day. But his time is fast running out.

Chateshwar Pujara had played only two innings in the series and unfortunately ran himself out in one of those innings. Hence, Pujara gets a life line as well for one more test.

India needs to replace two opening batsmen, the wicket- keeper and a bowler. The options available in the squad for India to replace these 4 players are Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav. Out of these 7 available players, India can't afford to once again defy logic by selecting the second spinner in the playing XI. That rules Jadeja out from the playing XI.

Shardul Thakur won't find a place in the playing XI due to his inexperience. With the likely return of Jasprit Bumrah into the team, Umesh Yadav will find himself out of the team.

By default, the remaining four players in the squad will replace those four players who are likely to be dropped.

1. Rishabh Pant in place of Dinesh Karthik.

This will be a straight forward swap - wicket - Keeper for a wicket keeper. Dinesh Karthik's dreadful form had cruelly affected the team balance. He had scored only 21 runs in the two matches and had looked out of sorts behind the wicket as well. On the other hand, Rishabh Pant had been in U.K. as a member of the India A team since the beginning of the English summer and had been in terrific form with the bat. He is young and fearless and comes in to the team without any scars of the past. Besides his safekeeping, his aggressive batting will also come in handy for Team India.

To accomplish better team composition, Rishabh Pant may have to shoulder the additional responsibility of opening the batting in his debut test. For the youngster, it is a grand occasion to prove his mettle.

2.Shikhar Dhawan in place of Murali Vijay

Murali Vijay, fresh from a pair at Lord's, is in no mental frame of mind to battle it out in the middle. A lengthy break from international Cricket should do him a world of good .

Shikhar Dhawan, though not a safe and sound option to replace Murali Vijay, is a better bet in Team India's endeavour to win the third test at any cost and stay alive in the series.

In a must win game, Shikhar Dhawan's better strike rate should enable Team India to score runs quickly as long as he lasts. By rotation, Shikhar Dhawan should get one more match to prove himself like the other two openers. But a real headache for Kohli would be where to position Dhawan in the field. Definitely not in the slips. Perhaps a third man or Fine leg is the safe and secure options.

3. Karun Nair in place of K.L.Rahul

K.L. Rahul had been a disappointment outside Asia. After his first hundred at Sydney in his second test match, he failed to make an impact outside Asia. He should be given a break.

K.L. Rahul's likely replacement Karun Nair had scored a triple hundred in test cricket against the same opponent at Chennai. Though playing in England is not the same as playing in India, Karun Nair could draw lot of inspiration and self-belief from his Chennai effort against England . Karun Nair's presence will definitely shore up the brittle Indian middle order.

4. Jasprit Bumrah in place of Kuldeep Yadav

India sorely missed Jasprit Bumrah in the first two test matches. More so in the first test match, where India failed to knock off the England tail in the second innings. In the end, that proved to be the decisive factor in that closely fought test match.

A fit - again Bumrah would be India's trump card in the third test.

Presuming Kohli fit to play, India's likely playing XI is

1. Shikhar Dhawan
2. Rishabh Pant
3. Chateshwar Pujara
4. Virat Kohli
5. Ajinkya Rahane
6. Karu Nair
7. Hardik Pandya
8. Ravichandran Ashwin
9. Mohammed Shami
10. Ishant Sharma
11. Jasprit Bumrah