As 2017 ends, Team India is already in South Africa preparing for their first challenge of 2018; A tour that will test this young Indian team lead by the aggressive captain Kohli.
This year has seen teams coming to India, getting defeated hands down, with India showcasing it’s dominance across all formats. Be it teams like Australia, New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka, the results remained the same. The Black Caps came the closest to defeat Indian team. But India, held on to the nerves and played to their potential, clinching the victory from the Kiwis. Indian Team also went to West Indies and Sri Lanka, which were not considered much of a competition against the strong Indian Lineup.
There has been a noticeable change in Indian Cricket in past 12-18 months. We have now got specialists for all formats. Earlier, we had 1 team that used to play all 3 formats apart from a couple of limited over specialists. But, silently Virat Kohli has created a different set of players for different formats.
Take Test Cricket for example, In opening spot we have Murali Vijay and KL Rahul as the first 2 choices.There is Dhawan and Rohit as backups, in case there is some injury.
And we all know Murali Vijay’s ability to leave balls outside the off-stump (a must have skill in tests, especially when you play in conditions where the ball swings).
No. 3 in Test – Cheteshwar Pujara, calling him ‘The Wall’ will be a bit disgraceful to the Legend of the game, Rahul Dravid. But, Pujara with all the hard work and shear batting display has made the No. 3 spot his own. To magnify this point, we don’t have a replacement for Pujara.
No. 4, Sachin’s spot is being filled by the Indian Captain, Virat Kohli, who has lately entering the ground and hitting double hundreds and toying with the bowling. Yes, the opponents have not been that strong but it’s the same bowling line-up that entire team is facing. Besides his sublime form, he is continuing with the aggression that he got into this team. They only play for a win… and not a draw. The hunger to win is always reflected, no matter what the conditions are.
Middle Order in Tests – Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Saha (Wicket Keeper). Off late Rahane has not been finding the middle of his bat, but he has been a solid player for Team India. Still remember those mammoth partnerships with Kohli in the center. With a calm head, he is ideal for No. 5, followed by Rohit Sharma who can pace his innings beautifully as per the requirement of the game. Saha has been an ace keeper this home season. Harsha Bhogle, The Voice of Cricket, has even said, “I’ll choose, Saha in my test side, just for the way he has kept the wickets in Tests” Not that he can’t bat good, but his keeping skills are simply top-notch.
And the All-rounders – Ashwin and Jadeja. Ash and Jaddu always contribute with the bowl and as much as with the bat whenever needed. We expect Jadeja hitting a 30-35 ball 50 and Ashwin to hang in there. The spin-twins (of Tests) are great asset to this Indian Test side, as they always manage to take wickets at crucial times.
The Pace Attack – Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and now even Jasprit Bumrah.
Shami, Ishant and Umesh have been the front line pacers in Test matches as Team India have been reluctant to use Bhuvi just to share the workload. Umesh has been expensive, but at the same time has been getting wickets throughout the home season. Shami and Ishant have been impressive. Reverse swing with pace from Shami, and the inswing and bounce from Ishant gives the pace attack the right balance.
Now that Bumrah has been given a chance in Tests against SA (a result of tremendous bowling in limited overs formats), it will be interesting to see how he performs in Tests. Will India be able to bring The Bhuvi and Bumrah Magic to Tests?
Coming to the ODI Side, we have Rohit and Dhawan as openers, Kohli at 3 (and rightly so as the best batsmen in the team, has to bat at No. 3, and there is no 1 better than King Kohli in ODI’s). Followed By Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, and Dhoni (the best keeper and finisher in the world, apart from the coolest head in Cricket).
Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav (Spin Twins for the ODI’s and T20s)
Hardik Pandya (the Floating all rounder) who can decimate the opponent in an over or two by both his batting as well as bowling.
The Limited Overs Pace Attack – Bhuvi and Bumrah. These two have been the most improved bowlers in world-cricket over the last 12-18 months. Those accurate yorkers and slower balls/ knuckle balls are unanswerable at the moment in world cricket.
Talking about the T20s, Dinesh Kartik comes to the middle order, Deepak Hooda is around, Jaydev Unadkat has made a stupendous comeback to the international cricket. Washington Sundar recently had a good debut. Mohammed Siraj was expensive but certainly has the potential to impress all. Basil Thampi is hanging around, waiting for his opportunity at the international level.
So, across all 3 formats, Team India has covered all 3 perspectives, Batting, Bowling and Fielding. They have been ruthless at home in 2017 and we expect the same approach abroad in 2018.
The toughest challenge awaits team India in England this summer (June – September 2018).
We are here backing the troops… cheering for the Men in Blue!
Chants to eternity* India! India!… India! India!…