3 Indians who have strengthened claims for a World Cup berth with performances in the Test series
India has finally won a Test series in Australia for the first time in 71 years and 12 tours. In the process, India became the first Asian team to win a Test series in Australia which would only signify the enormity of the achievement.
By winning the Border-Gavaskar trophy by a margin of 2-1, the Indians have finally got the monkey off their back. Being the No. 1 Test team in ICC rankings for so long, India has finally set right one of the ironies by winning a Test series in Australia. If India manages to win a Test series in South Africa in the future, they would be worthy of their Test ranking.
For his wonderful contribution with the bat, Chateshwar Pujara deservingly got the Player of the Series award. Pujara was the actual difference between the two teams in the series. More so, with his best innings of the series on the very first day of the series which really dictated the direction in which the series should move.
Now that the series is done and dusted and with India scheduled to play their next Test match only in July 2019, the focus will automatically shift to the World Cup in England in June 2019.
Before the World Cup in England, India is scheduled to play a total of 13 ODIs, 3 in Australia, 5 in New Zealand and 5 against Australia at home. These 13 matches are actually the testing ground for the Indian selectors and the team management to arrive at the best composition for the World Cup.
In that respect, the selectors would be delighted that 3 Indian players who were not quite there before have immensely enhanced their prospect of selection in the World Cup squad with their performances in Australia.
Though the World Cup is a different format altogether, in today’s world of cricket it is very difficult to find a player like a Pujara who can be termed as a Test specialist. A Test purist like a Pujara is rare and precious in modern day cricket.
As far as other players are concerned, they would endeavor to play in all formats of the game if their skill levels, form, and fitness allow them to do so. From the selector’s point of view, they wouldn’t mind alternating in-form players amongst formats to maximize the good form of the players for team benefit.
But for the fast-approaching World Cup, India would very much love to experiment young and exciting prospects like Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal in ODI formats too. In fact, the Australian selectors have taken that route in their selection of the ODI team to play India. They have selected Test specialists like Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, and Peter Siddle ahead of one-day specialists like Travis Head and Chris Lynn.
Coming back to India, the Australian Test series has reinforced the presence of some of the players who could be a useful addition to the World Cup squad. We are not talking about the Rohit Sharmas and Shikhar Dhawans here who are near certainties for the World Cup.
It is about players who are on the verge of selection but who might miss out. 3 such border-line players have enhanced their chances of selection to the World Cup with better performances in the recently concluded Test series against Australia.
#3 Rishabh Pant as the reserve wicket-keeper batsman
Performance in Australia
Matches– 4, Innings– 7, Runs scored– 350 Avg– 58, Catches– 20
Rishabh Pant broke many records in the Test series against Australia. Apart from taking the most number of catches in the series for an Indian wicket-keeper, he also became the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a century in Australia.
In batting, he has shown his consistent side with scores of 25, 28, 36, 30, 39, 33 and 159 not out. Unlike in England, he was composed and safe behind the wickets in Australia. Pant’s compelling performances in Australia has already prompted the Chairman of the selection committee, Mr. M.S.K Prasad, to make positive remarks about Pant’s possible return to the World Cup squad.
Though Pant has not exactly set the stage on fire in the 3 ODIs he has so far played for India, Pant is an attacking option in the Indian middle-order which India sorely miss at the moment. The fact that he is a left-hander is an added advantage.
Pant can be in the World Cup squad both as a reserve wicket-keeper and as a reserve batsman. He has only enhanced his reputation on the Australian tour. The possible return of Rishabh Pant might set Dinesh Karthik’s place in the ODI team in jeopardy.