With Team India having a strong bench strength and plenty of options to choose from in the Test series, VVS Laxman has urged the Indian selectors to stick with Shikhar Dhawan.
Laxman who has worked closely with Shikhar Dhawan at Sunrisers Hyderabad has batted for his inclusion in the Test series.
In his column for the Times of India, former batsman VVS Laxman, wrote, "Virat Kohli will believe he has the resources at his disposal to put it past England in the five-Test series starting on Wednesday. I am of the same opinion; this is a fantastic opportunity to build on the gains of South Africa. There is plenty of experience in the batting group. Almost everyone has played Test cricket in England previously, too. That is a huge plus. In 2014, most of the batsmen were on their first tour of England. Having already played there, they are in a much better space now. It will be important for the batsmen to make the most of their knowledge of the conditions to put up a big score in the first innings because, especially overseas, it is first-innings runs that set up victories."
Laxman's concerns for Dhawan came after he failed to score against Essex in the warm-up game. To make matters worse he registered a pair to give selection headaches.
"India must stick with Shikhar Dhawan for the first Test. He looked in very good touch in the limited-overs games, and made a hundred in the first session of the game in his last Test appearance, against Afghanistan. He must be encouraged to go out and play freely, without the fear of failure weighing on his mind, because that's when he is at his most dangerous. Shikhar can take the game away from the opposition very early, and if he can stamp his authority on James Anderson and Stuart Broad, it will neutralise England's biggest threats," Laxman, who played 134 Tests for India, opined.
Regarding India's bowling attack, Laxman suggested the inclusion of R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav in the playing XI along with the three pacers.
"I also feel that the bowling attack should include the proven R Ashwin and the exciting Kuldeep Yadav. Both spinners are wicket-taking bowlers who should relish the dry conditions forecast for the match, and with Ashwin boasting four Test hundreds, India will not be light on batting either. I would love to see Hardik Pandya at No. 7. He will also complement the new ball pair of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma. I don't believe Mohammed Shami has enough bowling under his belt in recent times to displace either Umesh or Ishant," Laxman wrote.
Interestingly this will be England's 1000th Test match.
(With TOI Inputs)