India vs England, 1st Test: What should India’s top order be for Edgbaston?

With less than 48 hours to go until the start of the first Test between India and England in Birmingham, India’s think tank has a few issues to address. Starting at the top, the focal point is which two openers to choose, followed by the decision to pick a No 3 batsman.

READ: Sourav Ganguly wants Murali Vijay, KL Rahul to open for India

In India’s previous Test match, against debutants Afghanistan in June, India opened with Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay and batted KL Rahul at No 3, with Cheteshwar Pujara dropping down a place to fourth. In that two-day victory, Dhawan (106 off 96 balls) and Vijay (105 off 153) eased to centuries, Rahul hit 54 off 64 deliveries and Pujara made 35 off 52 balls.

READ: KL Rahul can play anywhere in top four, says Ravi Shastri

If the three-day tour match  against County Championship defending champions Essex at Chelmsford last week is anything to go by, then Dhawan looks the likeliest to get the chop. The left-hand batsman bagged a pair in that match, and facing just four deliveries cannot be considered ideal preparation face up to James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

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Dhawan’s place appears set to go to Rahul, who batted at No 6 in the first innings and made a pleasing 58, albeit it when the green-tinged surface had eased out and the Essex bowlers started to tire, and in the second innings was promoted to open and scored an unbeaten 36. Thought he has yet to play Tests in England, the 26-year-old has a solid technique and

Vijay’s only cricket since the Afghanistan Test in Bengaluru came in India A’s loss to England Lions recently, in which he scored 8 and 0, and the Essex fixture. The 53 he made in the last match should have conformed his presence for Birmingham.

Pujara came in at one-down in both innings, but scores of 1 and 23 do not augur well looking at the Edgbaston Test. With questions being asked about his current batting abilities after a lean run in county cricket for Yorkshire – he averaged 14.33 in six four-day matches – and a poor Test average in England (22.20), Pujara has had questions raised about his skills in red-ball cricket outside of Asia.

Sourav Ganguly has backed India to go with Vijay and Rahul as the openers at Edgbaston, while Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket and a former Test batsman, has backed Pujara to score this summer, while shaking off claims  that the Indian batsman has major technical difficulties in bowler-friendly conditions.