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The future of Indian test cricket

V.Arunkumar
Written by V.Arunkumar . Posted in Cricket on 02 February 2012.
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After India’s eighth consecutive defeats in tests played abroad, Indian fans are desperate to see a change in the Indian team. There is a lot of anticipation and even rumors about the retirement of Indian middle order batting trio, the legends Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar. Sachin , who played well when compared with others, is least likely to quit. Though all the three can’t be playing for longer time as they are now at age of 39, it would be interesting to see what the BCCI would do.

Retirement of the Trio:

Though there were a lot of speculation on the retirement of these veterans, it is most likely that they would play atleast one series. The fact that India won’t be playing any test till September and also they won’t be playing any test abroad for almost 2 years from now, will be a blessing in disguise. It is upto the seniors to take a call on their retirement. All they have to do is consider their age factor and their fitness and should declare their retirement in the due course of time. And of the three, Laxman is most likely to quit first, followed by Dravid and finally by Sachin.

Future of Indian Cricket:

The senior veterans are on their verge of their end. So the biggest question is Who would fill the shoes of these India would be desperate to see a lot of young bloods to play test cricket after the exits of the senior players. The likes of Virat Kohli, Ajinkae Rahanae, Rohit Sharma,Abhinuv Mukund,Chetehwar Pujara, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina are most likely to fight for the spot s left by the senior folks. As Virat being the lone Indian to score a century in the Australian test series, he is likely to retain the slot in test cricket. So it’s going to be a competition between the other 5 to fight for the three slots which will be vacant when the three giants leave cricket.

Ajinkae Rahane:

Rahane has been a top performer in Ranji trophy and has been knocking the doors of test cricket for a longer time. He made his international debut against England in T20 where he scored his maiden half century. Also he was selected in the Indian test squad against Australian but he always had the job of 12th man which he wouldn’t have enjoyed a lot. A promising young lad, who plays at no.3 slot and at times even opens the innings. With Sehwag hinting that he may bat low down the order when the three leaves, Rahane might be preferred to open the innings with Gautham Gambhir.

Rohit Sharma:

Rohit Sharma is the only Indian player after Sachin to score century in finals of Ranji trophy and Duleeph Trophy. He is one of the most technically sound cricketers in the modern day cricket. His free flowing flamboyant stroke plays is pleasant to watch and his ability to move quickly to his back foot makes him play the rising ball with ease. Thus he can be the suitable player to play in bouncing conditions and his technique and temperament makes him the strongest contender to replace the first of the three who retires.

Abhinuv Mukund:

Mukund, a promising opener from Tamil Nadu made his debut against England in England. Though he had starts he was unable to convert his starts into a big innings. But he has been consistent run scorer in the domestic circuits. He will be in shadow as long as the senior trio retires because even if there is a vacant opening slot, it’s most likely to be filled by Rahanae. But then he would get a call when the regular openers are not fit or when they are out of form. Though at this juncture, this guy seems to be a back up player, he will be a part of the eleven in the future and will score heavily in international circuit as well.

Cheteshwar Pujara:

The most awaited and most spoken player in Indian circuit who have the patience like Dravid and play like Laxman in a stylish way. He got an opportunity to play against Australia in India and against South Africa in South Africa. He grabbed the opportunities with both hands and made the best use of it. He played a match winning knock against Australia and later was kept in sidelines due to injury. Once he is fully fit and starts to play in Ranji Trophies he certainly will be a strong contender to be back in the test squad. This guy has been the leading run scorer and consistent performer for Saurashtra. India would need him to do the same with International circuit as well and for he will a member of the India middle order and India would want him to do what Laxman has been doing so far, buiding partnership with the lower middle order and tail enders.

Yuvraj Singh:

The hero of the World cup 2011, has been in and out of the team due to injuries. He has been a part of Indian test team but not a regular member. He would be hoping for a slot in test batting order once the greats go out of the game. He plays fearless cricket which makes the opponent fear for him. Another advantage he has is that, he is a left hander. So when he starts building partnership, it will be a difficult job for the bowlers to adjust for the line and especially when they bowl in tandem. He wont be available for the next 6 months and India wont be playing for the next 8 months, which means he can take his time for recovery and come back pretty strong both physically and technically.

Suresh Raina:

Raina has played some 15 matches but he is yet to make an impression on the minds of the cricketers and selectors. The one day specialist struggles badly when asked to play in test cricket especially when there is bounce in the wicket. Bowlers realize that he is vulnerable to bouncers and they start to bowl bouncers as soon as this guy walks into the crease. If Yuvraj returns in time and in form then it would be difficult for Raina to reserve a berth in Indian test squad.

 


When there are lots of competitions for a vacant slot, then it is a clear indication of bench strength that India have.

The senior trios have been the pillar of Indian test team for more than a decade. They know their game and the needs of the team. For a man, who knows his game in and out will surely know the time when to announce his retirement. When they feel that they are out of form or if they feel they can play anymore, they will call a quit. So there is no necessity other former players to urge the veterans to retire.

If all the three veterans go out of cricket at the same time, then it will be a Himalayan job for the young lads to carry the pressure and deliver whenever there is expectation. But the same thing happened in 1996. There were three new faces in Indian test cricket but no one would have expected those three to carry cricket and its burden in their shoulders. They are none other than Gangully,Dravid and Laxman. The modern youngsters have to do a miracle if they are to repeat the same what had happened 16 years back. But the most likely thing to happen is the senior three to retire one by one so that when one guy moves out of the team then the other two could be a mentor for the new lad and in such a fashion all three can go out. But when the three go out, it will be a hilarious job and a Himalayan task for the young legs to fill their spot. But we have to wait for eight more months and see what happens.

Changes that could possibly be made:

There have been a lot of debates on change in Captainship. And even Dhoni has announced that he is ready to give up his captainship in test cricket. At times Sehwag is into the mix, Gambhir has been told as future captain and Kohli is being named as the future of Indian cricket itself. But honestly speaking India is yet to find a proper captain and a proper replacement for Dhoni which is correctly pointed out by former Indian skipper Azharrudhin and former Pakistan skipper Akram. So change is captainship is out of option. But there are lots of changes that can be made in the test team.

As its pretty evident that the three will be leaving within a year, the middle order will be completely inexperienced. So, as Sehwag hinted he can be sent down the order so as to boost the middle order experience also this makes sure that Sehwag need not face the swinging balls. When the trio retires, Virat will be handed the role of batting at no 3 slot. Hence despite the inexperienced middle order, it will look strong with Virat and Sehwag in the mix. So the Indian batting order would possibly be

  1. 1.Gambhir 2.Sehwag 3.Virat 4.Rohit 5.Yuvraj 6.Pujara 7.Dhoni

Then comes in the bowling department. One thing which is not pretty clear was the omission of Irfan Pathan in all formats of the same. When Australia persists with Hopes, England had Ealham, South Africa had Hall, Newzeland is now having Franklin but India doesnot have the trust in Irfan. There always is a quest for an all rounder, but when we have the option we don’t pick him. When the former Indian players stress on inclusion of Irfan in T20s and ODIs, I would say Irfan can also be included in test team. He provides additional strength to the batting lne up. There have been constant complaints that opposition is able to wrap up the Indian tail so cheaply. SO if Irfan is included he can offer resistance with the bat as well which is the demand of the hour.

So in the near future, the Indian team might be Gambhir, Sehwag, Virat, Rohit, Pujara,Yuvraj, Dhoni, Saha(Back up keeper), Rahane(back up opener),Ashwin, Ojha,Zaheer, Umesh, Irfan, Aaron.

The above mentioned team can vary based on their fitness and form. Raina, Badrinath,Mukund, Ishanth, Harbhajan, Mishra might be there in case of the lack of fitness or form of the above mentioned team.

 


V.Arunkumar

Author: V.Arunkumar

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