India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to put in some serious thinking as to what will be his playing XI in the first Test of the five-match series. Will Dhoni go with five specialist batsmen and give Stuart Binny a Test debut at Trent Bridge?
Indian players warmed up with a morale-boosting five-wicket win against Derbyshire in their second three-day tour game on Thursday, ahead of the first Test. But the bowling attack led by the Ishant Sharma gave away 831 runs in 197 overs picking up just 11 wickets in the two tour games against Leicestershire and Derbyshire.
There is a big possibility that the curators might produce a seaming wicket at Trent Bridge offering bounce and pace to the faster bowlers and not providing much assistance to spinners. That means if MS Dhoni shows some confidence in his pacers, then we could see Stuart Binny making a Test debut and Rohit Sharma missing out in the playing XI.
Binny picked up the wicket of Derbyshire skipper Chesney Hughes (20) and bowled a spell of 1 for 25 in the first innings and then scored a half-century.
But for the Indian team, the two warm-up games were a mixed show where the main focus was to give enough practice to all players before the start of the five-Test series.
The batsmen had a good show in both warm-up matches. They fought hard under cloudy skies at Leicester and then looked settled on the placid track in Derbyshire.
Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and Dhoni all had a decent hit in the middle, which leaves Dhoni's worries restricted to the bowlers.
It's difficult to see Dhoni playing two spinners, which leaves him to make a choice between R Ashwin & Ravindra Jadeja, with the latter seemingly the frontrunner. The biggest worry is the form of Ishant, who has bowled 16 no-balls in the two tour games - looking increasingly short on confidence and form. But he is expected to get the nod as the senior bowler - at least for the opening Test.
Considering India's bowling form, they need five bowlers in any case to take 20 wickets. If Dhoni decides against that, the decision may boomerang - allowing England batsmen to return to form and get a foothold in the series.