It's not always that an away team has a more settled XI going into a Test series, but as India return to Trent Bridge, the scene of their last Test win in England, they do so with fewer selection dilemmas than the hosts. England have lost Ben Stokes, who provided great depth to their XIs. Still, India have a few things to ponder over as they prepare for the first Test, which begins on Wednesday.
Does Pujara start?
Rohit Sharma is all set to open with Mayank Agarwal after Shubman Gill got injured. Agarwal was the back-up opener and should play ahead of Abhimanyu Easwaran, the other opener in the squad. Captain Virat Kohli will take the customary No. 4.
At No. 3, though, Cheteshwar Pujara will be under pressure if he doesn't get a big score early. Since his blockbuster tour of Australia in 2018-19, Pujara has gone 18 Tests without a century and is averaging 28. India are expected to at least start off with Pujara, but three years ago he missed the corresponding fixture so it won't be unprecedented if Pujara is dropped.
What if Rahane is not fit?
One of the reasons India might not initiate the Pujara debate yet is the uncertainty around Ajinkya Rahane, who missed the three-day warm-up fixture in Durham with a hamstring injury. That is also the reason Suryakumar Yadav was named as a back-up batter for the tour. The BCCI remains optimistic that vice-captain Rahane will be ready, but if he is not, the choice is between two batters.
Hanuma Vihari remains the frontrunner for the spot having been the sixth batter in the line-up since the last England tour, but this team management is not averse to punting on current form. And KL Rahul, who last played a Test in 2019, has current form with a hundred in the warm-up fixture.
Lower middle order
India's lower middle order failed in New Zealand last year; they lost. Their lower middle order scored runs in Australia; they won. They went with a similar combination as the Australia tour - Rishabh Pant at 6, two spinners who bat - into the World Test Championship final, but they failed; India lost. Nos. 6, 7 and 8 are a pivotal part of India's XIs. This is where they have to balance their runs against their wickets and dismissals behind the wicket.
By all accounts, Rishabh Pant is healthy and ready to play after he suffered from Covid-19 in the middle of the last month. While India are likely to retain the two spinners - R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja - because they give the attack variety, experience and numbers while shoring up the batting, if the conditions make spin redundant, there could be a rethink that could involve an extra batter or Shardul Thakur.
Does Siraj get in?
There was a temptation to play him in the World Test Championship final, but India went in with their experienced trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. At some point in the series, Mohammed Siraj will get a chance even if India stick with the same three for the series starter. Given their batting limitations, all four will struggle to play together.