Australia vs India, 2018-19: Virat Kohli’s selection of Kuldeep Yadav could be a master-stroke
There was a lot of speculation about the composition of the Indian playing eleven after the 13-man squad was announced. Now that the match has got underway and the final set of eleven players have been chosen to play and secure a historic Test series win, it’s instructive to look at the team composition, especially in terms of the new inclusions.
The selection of KL Rahul in place of Rohit Sharma was a foregone conclusion, once the 13-man squad was announced. There was no extra batsman in the squad, and being 2-1 up in the series, it was only expected that Kohli would go with seven batsmen, including the wicketkeeper, in a safety-first approach. It is a different matter though that Rahul failed for an umpteenth time.
However, it is the selection of Kuldeep Yadav in the eleven that was a bit of surprise, and could actually be considered a masterstroke. It is not just the choice of Kuldeep, but the manner in which it was done, that makes it a great one. Of course, a final judgment can be made only after the Test is done and we know exactly what Kuldeep’s contribution is.
In the pre-match media briefing, Kohli had spent a lot of time explaining how Ashwin has not yet recovered from injury and his disappointment over the same. He had then gone on to all but rule out his inclusion in the playing eleven. At the same time, he was effusive in his praise for Hanuma Vihari’s spin bowling skills.
Going by the Captain’s comments, it was felt that he was planning to go with one spinner in Jadeja and a part-timer in Vihari. But, by saying something and doing a different thing on the match day, Kohli has certainly sprung a surprise on the Australian team.
Everything points at this being the right call, especially so now, since Australia will be batting last on this spin-friendly pitch.