Why India need six specialist batsmen going forward
For years when Dhoni was captain India played with only four specialist bowlers and although it worked for him in home conditions, the Indian side dearly missed a 5th bowler in Tests away from home. When Virat Kohli became the captain of the Test side, one of the first things he did was to put in his 5-bowler theory to work in the Test team.
But for a Test side to have five bowlers in the side, one of them has to be a proper batting all-rounder, not bowling all-rounder. Someone who could come in to bat at no.6 or 7 and also act as a fifth bowler for the side.
In Indian conditions, both Ashwin and Jadeja played this role but it was inevitable that when the Indian side toured outside the subcontinent they had to have a fast bowling all-rounder in their side.
In came Hardik Pandya. A product of IPL, he was fast-tracked into the Test side. He has been a constant part of the Test team for quite some time now. And in spite of the Indian batting constantly failing to perform in tough conditions, Kohli stuck with Pandya. A player whose role in the side wasn't clear.
However, with the series already lost, Kohli went in with only 4 bowlers in this last Test match leaving Pandya out of the team. And on Sunday when India were in trouble, Hanuma Vihari who came in place of Hardik Pandya rescued the Indian side from trouble along with Jadeja. He played a gritty knock of 56.
Which brings in the question that would Hardik Pandya have been able to play a knock like that in this situation? I'm not saying he isn't capable, maybe he would've changed the match for India single-handedly.
But looking in hindsight what if we had an extra batsman like Vihari or Nair in place of Pandya at Edgbaston in the first Test or at Southampton in the fourth Test?
These are all theories of course and Pandya did play a crucial role in the Indian win at Nottingham in the third Test match. But with the Indian bowlers bowling as brilliantly these days it, does raise a question that do they need a fifth bowler in the side at the cost of a proper batsman?
The likes of Bumrah, Shami, Ishant, Bhuvneshwar, Umesh all of them are in the form of their life these days. The batting, on the other hand, has been ordinary. Other than Virat Kohli no-one has been consistent.
It makes sense for India to play six specialist batsmen going forward. Hardik Pandya is a prospect for future but right now India would perform a lot better with a longer batting lineup.