England had got the better of Virat Kohli India at Edgbaston after ten sessions of intense cricket. Had one of the specialist batsmen risen to the challenge of providing support to their captain, India might have got those 32 runs needed to win. Instead, Kohli played a lone hand, scoring 149 (out of 274) and 51 in a low-scoring Test where England prevailed, owing much to an exuberant all-round show from young Sam Curran, some probing fast bowling from Ben Stokes and James Anderson, and important first-innings fifties from Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.

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India have four gaping holes to fill in their top order, in the top three and No. 5. Cheteshwar Pujara’s omission at Edgbaston drew much criticism, but to be fair Pujara has been in terrible form this English summer, scoring 172 runs at 14.33 without a fifty for Yorkshire in the County Championship. Pujara had done miserably on the 2014 tour as well.

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Shikhar Dhawan (26 and 13), Murali Vijay (20 and 6), and KL Rahul (4 and 13) had all failed at Edgbaston. One may point out that Dhawan had the most runs of the three, there is really little to choose between the three. Rahul’s excellent form (albeit in white-ball cricket) may earn him another chance. The axe is likely to fall on Vijay, whose 102 runs in South Africa earlier this year had come at 17.

Time is running out for Ajinkya Rahane (15 and 2 at Edgbaston) as well. However, Rahane had looked confident against England A with 49 and 48 (Vijay had failed there as well, scoring 8 and 0). In the same match, Rishabh Pant had scored 58 and 61 (in 71 balls); it will be a shame if India do not play him ahead of Pujara. When India A needed 100 with 5 wickets in hand against West Indies A, Pant sealed the chase with a 71-ball unbeaten 67.

Given Dinesh Karthik’s ordinary performance behind stumps at Edgbaston, it will make sense to hand over the big gloves to Pant. Karthik’s form with bat (white-ball success and the Essex match) is impressive, but Karun Nair has also done well this summer (227 runs at 37.90). He may just get the nod.

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