‘What he’s done in the last little while has been phenomenal.’
The much awaited India versus Australia series is just round the corner.
The bugle has been sounded by the BCCI with the announcement of the India squad for the T20, ODI and Test series that are going to be played down under from the end of November.
This series is much awaited by cricket fans in both Australia and India. The Indians would like their team to prove to the Aussies that the 2018-19 series win was not influenced by the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.
The Australians would like to beat India convincingly and tell the Indians that 2018-19 loss was an aberration.
Whichever way the series might go, there will be no shortage of drama.
Test Squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Mohd. Siraj
Indian team selection
Team selections are usually contentious, what with every commentator in the country weighing in on what the selection committee could have done differently.
Tongues have started to wag at the absence of Rohit Sharma in the line-up. The BCCI notification says that Rohit’s absence is due to his injury and that they will monitor the progress of his fitness closely.
However, Rohit seems to be getting ready in the nets to play for Mumbai Indians in the ongoing IPL in UAE. One hopes that there is nothing sinister in this situation. Indian team needs to go to Australia feeling strong, united and wanting to conquer the Aussies once more.
Apart from the controversy around Rohit’s exclusion, the team selection has been along the expected lines. One thinks that the playing XI for the first Test will be very similar to the one that took the field during the 2018-19 series, except that Saha will be the wicket keeper and one of Saini or Umesh will take Ishant’s place.
In my view, the result of this series for India is going to hinge on the last bit of the previous sentence i.e. the replacement for Ishant.
India will miss Sharma
In the 2018-19 series, one of Ishant, Bumrah and Shami played the role of the third seamer and kept the pressure on the Aussies.
Teams struggle in Australia whenever their third seamer option has been poorer compared to the lead seamers.
Ishant’s absence in the line-up due to injury will be a big blow for India’s chances down under in this series. Virat will expect Umesh or Saini to step up to the plate and fill this huge void.
If we remember, Umesh disappointed one and all in the Perth test in 2018. More than Rohit Sharma, it is Ishant Sharma who India will miss most down under. If the third seamer option fails to perform, Virat can very well kiss the Border Gavaskar trophy good bye.
Apart from the concern due to the absence of Ishant, Virat will also be concerned about the batting form of his Vice Captain.
Ajinkya Rahane did not look in good form in the IPL. Virat will expect his deputy to get into his groove using the opportunities that Ajinkya will get in the next one month.