Is Young India ready?
Indian cricket withstood the challenges of Test cricket and has seen all the success. Though for a short period, it has even enjoyed the No.1 status in the Test cricket. It was a result of continuous efforts of an entire generation of players. It was their dedication, devotion and love for the game that made it possible for India to rise to the pinnacle of success. Now, with most of this team on the other side of the field, a young India prepares to take their place. As India takes on the Aussies, there are a lot of questions to be asked and a lot to expectations on the young side. A common analysis can take us as back as 2001, when the revival of Indian cricket started. Eden Gardens, along with its thousands of supporters, witnessed the event which changed the future of Indian cricket. Going a bit deeper and analyzing the team we can observe the changes the team had undergone at various levels.
Opening pairs always have a great impact on the result of the match. They are the first men to go in and face the ball. The momentum they can give to team can change the course of the match and in recent times the chases in the second innings have become a lot more spicy because of their efforts. Virender Sehwag not only brought freshness to the game but changed the very role of a Test Opener from taking the shine off the ball to taking away the morale of the opponents. He latched onto the opponents right from the word go and his two triple tons speak volumes of his ability. And speaking of his partner Gambhir, he has matured a lot in his temperament, shot selection and is very much in the race. Murali Vijay is the latest entry to the spot and ‘made his bones’ with the ton against Australia. But can he live up to the expectations of this cricket frenzy nation? His domestic record certainly backs him up and he just needs a few chances to prove himself at the top level.
The only position in Test cricket where a batsman must prepare himself for every possible situation. If there is one man who was made for this role, it was Rahul Dravid. And that was no easy task even for him and he sweated for every run he made, every minute he stood out there. This is the most crucial position in a Test, the man who must anchor the team. When India required a man who allowed others to build a partnerships around him, Rahul stood up to the challenge and did an exemplary job. Cheteshwar Pujara made his entry into the Test team after years of prolific run-making at domestic and A-team level. He is capable enough to withstand all the challenges of the slot and can be an excellent replacement for Dravid. But Test cricket asks for continuous dedication, and consistency is the yard stick out there. To fill in the shoes of the someone who served his nation for nearly 17 years with distinction and exemplary dedication is no small task. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to stand under the scorching sun, taking in all the pressure of playing at the top level.
The middle order:
The backbone of Indian cricket and perhaps the best middle order Test cricket has ever seen. The likes of Sachin, Sourav, VVS proved themselves under every possible situations and left a shining legacy for the youngsters. Their very names brought the morale of the opponents down. They gave their best always every time they stepped onto the field and that’s what made them the best in the business. Though Sachin still carries his bat to the battle, he is the last of the warriors of his generation. Virat Kohli is already a very much settled and matured batsman but only time is the last judge. M.S.Dhoni, the captain cool of the modern Indian side, still has a lot to prove as a Test batsman despite his ton against the Aussies. The young Indian side needs him to lead by example and he need to step up and come up with a lot of such innings. They may not miss them at home matches but when they are away from their comfort zone, they certainly feel their need. India needs a solid batting line upon whom they can rely even in the worst situations.
Spinners are the worst nightmare for any visiting team in the sub-continent. They are deadly and operate in pairs which makes things worse as both ends are used by them alone. Anil Kumble was the champion of contemporary Indian cricket in this aspect and stands out as one of the finest men to play cricket ever. A perfect gentleman and an extremely hardworking cricketer, he made spin a delight to watch and a nightmare to play. And Bhajji was his partner for many a match and was one of the key performers for the team. But his performance is under scrutiny these days with the advent of young bowlers. He has a lot of experience and the team needs it when it play away from home. Ravindra Jadeja still has a lot to do to justify his place in the team. Ashwin can have his place in the team if he continues his form and the team needs him to perform better in away matches. Pragyan Ojha is a bowler to look out for and can be the one who can stabilize the team.
The Pace department:
Fast bowling has never been the strongest part of Indian cricket but Zaheer Khan was always there to give a timely breakthrough to the team when it needed the most. His return to the team is still unknown but India sorely misses him on the field. India requires someone to lead the pack, advice them and guide them under new conditions. Bhuvneswhar Kumar is a welcome entry into the team. With his tight line and length, and the fact that he can be handy with his batting skills, he can prove helpful to the team. Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth and Kumar can become a formidable pace attack if they live up to the expectations.
And there is always the ever lasting question of captaincy and India finds solace in Dhoni, at least for now. The young India needs to stand up to the challenge and has a lot of ground to cover before it can come anywhere near its predecessors. They have a legacy to carry on and the cap they wear reminds them of it every time they step onto field.