“By far this is my biggest achievement. Has to be on top of the pile”, said an exuberant Virat Kohli at the press conference held shortly after the historic Border-Gavaskar Trophy victory in 2019. The victory was on the back of quite dispiriting, yet justifiable series losses against South Africa and England away from home. The defeats weren’t like the usual ones of 2011 wherein there was no sense of grit or valour on display, sparing the few displays by the cricketing thespian named Rahul Dravid in England or the fiery and young Virat in Adelaide, but these losses were subject to those decisive sessions ond days where there was everything to be played for, only for them to turn the tide against our way.
Come 2021, a whole new amalgammation of protocol and the sport which we truly. A completely repackaged team, with some senior stalwarts, along with consistent performers in either the domestic circuit or the team’s low-key Mjolnir, called India-A, headed by an relative unknown yet sharp figure, Shitanshu Kotak. The word which has been going around with this team’s plethora of players (which has becoming quite irksome offlately), is ‘bench-strength’, courtesy of which the team was able to launch a massive offensive against Australia, inspite of losing key-figures in the series held earlier this year. But does it truly solve most of the problems that persist in the squad at this point of time, probably not.
In the World Test Championship Finals, it was clearly visible to the naked eye that there were things clearly not in place unfortunately, from the likes of Pujara and Rahane giving away their wickets, especially to delivery directed to the places where there are flaws in their armoury, this added to the pressure to the batsmen, which was a diminuendo in the batting. Cheteshwar Pujara, an usually reliable and a force in the team hasn’t made, if I may quote Mr.Gavaskar, the ‘daddy hundreds’ since the past 30 innings which seems to be a worrying sign for the man who has saved the nation at times from the blemishes. Since the start of the year, Pujara has scored just 364 runs across 12 innings @ 30.33 , with a best of 77 against Australia at the SCG. Strike rates and Pujara do not go hand-in-hand but it does leave the one at the other end will the responsibility of rotating strike, leading to false shots and some times, loss of a wicket at, for instance, at the cusp of lunch or at the stroke of tea.
At the time of writing, Mayank Agarwal has officially been ruled out of the 1st test against England due to concussion, this means that India are in search of an second opener, who shall play alongside Rohit Sharma. KL Rahul, who had, with all due respect, awful series against England and Australia in 2018 will likely open tomorrow. Personally, every fan would hope of a Virat-esque comeback from the Karnataka batsmen and looking at his form in the practice matches, one shouldn’t be surprised of a comeback if it happens.
Ajinkya Rahane, once our standout batsmen in the SENA countries, has gotten time and time again when the team has expected him to stay put, especially in a dire situation against the mighty Kiwis. Sparring the tempo setting hundred in Melbourne, which in a couple of years will become a heroic folklore, there isn’t much to make a case for the vice-captain. It would be a make-or-break series for the Mumbai batsmen, as all eyes would be on him to put up some runs on board.
The piece on Indian bowlers and the allrounders comes up soon, happy reading till then…..