CHELMSFORD: Ahead of the high octane five-match Test rubber against England, starting August 1, the Virat Kohli-led Indian team will indulge in a four-day practice game against county side Essex from Wednesday.
The warm-up game will help the visitors to test the strengths and drawbacks beside figuring out the perfect combinations ahead of the first Test in Birmingham.
The batting department looks more or less settled with Test specialists — Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane — joining the squad. Kohli and the team management will be primarily focussed on picking a balanced pace attack.
While Bhuvenshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah will be out of action for the first three Tests, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur will share the fast bowling attack, whosoever gets a chance in Birmingham.
The experienced Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have shouldered the responsibility to lead the spin attack for a long time but the inclusion of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav has made the issue interesting as the skipper would only go with any two of them.
Kuldeep impressed everyone in the recently-concluded limited overs game against the hosts but playing a five-day game will be a completely different scenario and the skipper might possibly test him on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the keeping gloves is likely to be handed to Dinesh Karthik ahead of young Rishabh Pant as the former carries more experience than the Delhi stumper.
Overall, the four-day game will help the skipper and team management to draw a match-winning combination when they face the hosts in the longest format of the game.
Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.