Expectations from the Indian batting ahead of the Lords Test
As the first Test gets underway in a couple of days’ time, it’s time to look at what we can expect from our famed Indian batting line-up. The top order was blown away in the tour game against Somerset in the first inning. So, it’s practically better to lower our expectations and see the Test with our sights set well below the Everest.
But Suresh Raina really turned it on with some magnificent run-a-ball scoring and he eventually completed a well-deserved 100. He is getting appreciations for the way he is handling the short ball. He is getting side on, using soft hands and not letting the short ball pop out of his bat. He has always been a positive stroke maker and it is no surprise that this T20 star for CSK and India, has employed the pull and hook shots fearlessly. So, he will be expected to make a good impression at Lords.
Gautam Gambhir and Abinav Mukund are 2 similar opening batsmen. Both have solid temperament and oodles of patience. If they can get their eye in, as they did in the 2nd inning of the tour game, India can rest assured of a slow yet steady start.
This said, Virender Sehwag will be sorely missed as rightly pointed out by Ian Chappell. The thrust provided by the Delhi marauder, his fearless upper cuts over the slips, third man and beyond, and the general ruthless streak he provides at the top of the order will be a real miss from the Indian batting. If Sehwag gets his eye in, a big 100 is a given and an end of the day score of 350 odd would be comfortable. But, now without him, Gambhir has to step up and keep the scorecard ticking at the top of the order because Dravid, Sachin and Laxman are not exactly known for setting the run rate on fire.
Getting bogged down at the top of the order and that too, early on in the tour would really put pressure on the middle and lower order guys like Raina, Dhoni and Yuvraj or whoever gets selected
Dravid would be in the zone as usual. He will be in his own world and 100% concentration and commitment to the team, can be expected. His form has been good and he along with Raina and Laxman have been the form players from the previous WI tour. Dravid and Laxman have always been the unsung heroes and they will go about their job with minimum fuss. Laxman hasn’t got a great record in England. He would look to set that right and answer back his critics in what has been the best past few seasons in his long illustrious career.
The 100th international hundred will be in focus as soon as Sachin gets into the middle. He made 25 odd in the tour game but with Sachin you never know. He is in a league of his own and he can set the scorecard on fire with a 100 as soon as a Test begins. Such has been his form in the past few yrs. He has been the master of all that he has surveyed in any country, any pitch, any condition and against any opponent. So the 100th hundred, if it does come as expected, will be awesome given the reputation that Lords has as the home of the game. The senior most son of the game and among the longest serving statesmen, getting to a huge personal landmark at Lords can’t be more apt. Poetic justice so to speak.
M.S.Dhoni has never made a big impact in testing conditions. So if India does bat first in the match and collapses, Dhoni can’t be expected to salvage the situation that much. But once the track eases out in the 2nd inning, he can be expected to set the pace and dictate terms. He is after all amongst the best flat track bullies in the game and among the most powerful wielders of the batting stick.
Of course we have the fearless whackers in our team and they also deserve a mention particularly the reasonably consistent tyro, Harbhajan Singh. He has put up his hands many times and helped the middle order in putting on crucial runs. He has also taken the upper hand on certain occasions and lorded over the opposition bowling. 2 Test 100s are more than impressive for this lower order batsman who has serious intentions of being taken seriously as an all-rounder. Now, that he has reached the 400 wkts bastion, the confidence level will also be high no doubt. Jiyo Sardarji.
FINAL PREDICTION: Regarding the Indian batting, a below par first inning and a comfortable second inning. The match will be a draw in all probability. An Indian win would be quite a shocker while a similar result for England won’t raise many eyebrows.