The independent voice of cricket

India v England 2024

What will India’s Test side look like when everyone is fit and available?

What will India's Test Xi look like when all players are fit?
Sarah Waris by Sarah Waris
@swaris16 5 minute read

The Indian team has recently been rocked with injuries, not allowing them to play a settled XI in Test cricket. But what would the team look like when every player is fit and available for selection?

Head coach Rahul Dravid recently spoke about the luxury of having an all-fit squad at his disposal with the increasing number of injuries in the Indian team. Since Dravid took over, India have played 23 Tests, with R Ashwin taking part in the most games – 20. A total of 33 cricketers have played for India in this period, but only four have taken part in more than 15: Ashwin, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill.

India’s first assignment under Dravid was against New Zealand at home, which several senior players skipped. Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja then missed the tour to South Africa, with the India skipper also missed the fifth Test against England in July 2022 and the series in Bangladesh in late 2022. The latter was also headlined by the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, who was in the middle of his back rehab then.

From 2023, India have dearly missed Rishabh Pant, who is still recuperating from multiple injuries following a car accident. India are playing the ongoing series against England without Kohli and Mohammed Shami, while Rahul missed the last three matches. At various stages, India were also without Bumrah and Jadeja.

India’s best Test XI if all players are fit

Rohit Sharma (captain)

Rohit will lead the team and is a must-pick in the side. Since the start of 2022, Rohit has scored 987 runs with three hundreds, two of which came in testing conditions. His 120 in Nagpur last year on a tricky surface helped India to a big win, while his 131 against England in Rajkot helped India recover from 33-3.

Yashasvi Jaiswal

The opener has had a stunning start to his Test career, breaking several records. Just eight games old, Jaiswal made double centuries in two successive Tests; holds the record for the most sixes in a series; and needs 120 runs in the final Test against England to break the record for most runs by an Indian in a series. An excellent reader of situations, he can pace his innings accordingly.

Shubman Gill

Gill was under the scanner ahead of the England series after an extended lean run. He had not averaged 30 over the last three years in the format, and might not even have made the XI had India had their first-choice players. In the last three games, however, he showed why he belonged. He made a crucial hundred in the second Test before narrowly missing out on another in the third. His unbeaten 52 in Ranchi after India were in a spot of bother displayed his temperament. He made only two boundary hits in the knock, but not before victory was in sight.

Virat Kohli

Kohli recovered from ordinary form to average 55.91 in 2023. He looked a class apart in South Africa in December and January, where the pitches troubled the India batters, and is a shoo-in whenever he is available.

KL Rahul overseas/Dhruv Jurel in India

Rahul’s hundred in South Africa while batting in the middle order demonstrated his skills to become a great in the format, but injuries, along with inconsistency, were major obstacles. Rahul has scored some fine Test hundreds in Australia, England and South Africa, and will start ahead of any youngster when India tour abroad.

In India, however, Rahul averages 41.24 after 17 Tests, and has not made a hundred since 2016, and went four years without playing a Test at home. In India, Dhruv Jurel, Sarfaraz Khan and Shreyas Iyer are contenders to take his spot. Iyer was recently dropped from the team despite being excellent against spinners and Sarfaraz has a phenomenal first-class record, but because of the maturity Jurel showed in Ranchi, he will make the XI over the others in India, although it is a small sample size.

Rishabh Pant

The no-look sixes, the reverse sweep against experienced pacers, his audacious whips against the spinners, his fearless approach even in the 90s across conditions. His non-stop chatter behind the stumps, his humming of the ‘Indian Spiderman’ theme song – need more reasons why he should be the first pick in the XI?

Ravindra Jadeja

Arguably the best Test all-rounder of the century, Jadeja has often rescued India from trouble over the last few years. Since the start of 2020, he averages 37.96 with the bat and 22.88 with the ball. No other player with 1,000 runs and 15 wickets over the same period has an average difference higher than 10.62.

Shardul Thakur overseas/R Ashwin in India

Ashwin is a no-brainer in India, but when touring overseas, he often has to sit down as India go in with one spinner in Jadeja because of his batting ability. India have played Thakur to keep the batting depth intact. He is also the fourth seamer, essaying the role Hardik Pandya would do when his body still allowed him to play Tests.

Mohammed Siraj overseas/Kuldeep Yadav in India

Siraj has the pace, is ruthless on his day, is currently the third-most experienced Indian pacer, and will join Bumrah and Shami as the third specialist quick away from Asia. In India, though, he makes way for Kuldeep, as India generally do not need three fast bowlers. He edges past Axar Patel, who had a brilliant start to his Test career but has flown under the radar recently. His batting has also seen rapid improvements.

Mohammed Shami

Shami has been an underrated Test bowler at home: Even as the spinners create havoc, Shami has 76 wickets in 21 Tests at an average of 22.10 and a strike rate of 42.6. No other Indian quick comes close to those parameters at home. He is a must both at home overseas.

Jasprit Bumrah

Like Pant, another player who just needs to be there.

India’s best Test XI at home

Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Dhruv Jurel, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

India’s best Test XI overseas

Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99