Senior players returned to the side as India announced its playing XI for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, which will start on Friday in Southampton’s Rose Bowl stadium.

There were reports that fast bowler Mohammed Siraj would get the nod following his heroics in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy where he ended up as the highest wicket-taker, but the Indian cricket team went with experience for the summit clash.

Shubman Gill has been selected as the opening partner for Rohit Sharma for the WTC final. Other notable absentees are Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha and Umesh Yadav.

India have gone with two spin bowling all-rounders in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, while Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami form the pace battery.

Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami’s inclusion comes as a surprise given that they missed the home series against England after picking injuries during the Australia tour. The duo, however, did get some match practice during the 2021 Indian T20 League.

Thunderstorms expected on opening day of WTC final

New Zealand, on the other hand, have decided to wait till the toss to announce their playing XI for the WTC final given the poor weather forecast for Friday. As per the UK met’s office website, a thunderstorm is expected on the opening day. Indian cricket team captain, Virat Kohli, however, said that it had little effect on his team’s playing XI. 

“[The weather] does not change [things] from our point of view as a team," Virat Kohli told the media on the eve of the match. "For us, it is about covering all the bases and making sure that we take the strongest side we can be on the park, which gives us batting depth and gives us enough bowling options as well. 

“We are quite clear in terms of what we want to do. The forecast is something we are not focused on,” Virat emphasised.

"We are not going to think too much about what might change. We are not bothered with what the weather holds,” he added. “Do we need to change the outlook of the team altogether? No. Obviously, how you approach the game and the decisions that you make day-to-day alter when the conditions are different. But not your whole team altogether."

India's playing XI for WTC final: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami

Featured photo: AFP / Peter Parks