Why India should go for a new-look batting line-up in the second Test
India’s victory over the West Indies in the first test at Rajkot was never in doubt. But even then, a victory by an innings and 272 runs within 3 days is a humongous one and shows the great chasm between the cricketing standards of these two teams. As has been said earlier, this series is rightly seen as preparation for the Australia series later this year.
Considering that India scored more than 600 runs at a fast pace, the batting definitely clicked. India did the right thing in Rajkot Test by blooding the youngster Prithvi Shaw who had a dream debut with a Man of the Match performance. But there were some disappointments in the continued poor form of Rahane and the continued technical frailty of Rahul against fast inswinging balls.
The victory over the West Indies in the second Test at Hyderabad is another foregone conclusion. However, the team management can maximize the benefits that they can draw from that Test, by not just focusing on the victory, but by selecting a team that will take them a step forward in their preparation for the Australia series.
As we saw in the England series and South Africa one before that, it is not India’s bowling, but the batting that led India down. Apart from the talismanic Virat Kohli, no other batsman showed the required technique or temperament. If they had lent some support to their captain, the end results in both the away series could have been very different.
This is all the more reason why the Indian Team management must carefully select their batting line up for the second test in Hyderabad, as this will be the final test for them before they embark on the Australia sojourn, where, hopefully, history can be made under Kohli’s Captaincy. Keeping an eye on the forthcoming Australia tour, the following should be India’s batting line up in the Hyderabad Test.
Opening Batsmen: Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul
India must persist with Prithvi Shaw and KL Rahul. Shaw should get more exposure and confidence from this Test, which will put him in good stead for the tougher overseas tour. Rahul is widely acknowledged as a future superstar of Indian cricket. But whether that will happen or not depends a lot on how he sorts out one glaring technical issue – he gets out to fast inswinging balls way too often. He needs to rectify it as soon as possible. Working on this problem in the nets is not going to be enough. He needs to tackle the issue on the field against international opposition.
Number 3: Mayank Agarwal
Though Mayank Agarwal is an opening batsman, he needs to be drafted into the side so that he gets some exposure and a feel of international cricket. He should be very much in the mix for an opening slot in the touring Indian side to Australia. Since he cannot play in that position here, he should play at number 3. Cheteswar Pujara will gain nothing much from playing this Test, except piling up some runs, and in the process denying India the chance to try out a player like Mayank Agarwal, keeping an eye on the Australia series.
Number 4: Ajinkya Rahane
For the number 4 position, Virat Kohli needs to make a self-less call for the greater benefit of the team. He needs to drop himself for this Test. In his place, the out of form Ajinkya Rahane should be our number 4 position so that he can have a chance to get back into some sort of form. His form is an absolutely crucial factor for India to do well overseas. The added responsibility of captaining the side should hopefully help him be more focused on the field.
Number 5: Hanuma Vihari
Hanuma Vihari should be the batsman coming in at number 5. He had a memorable debut Test against England. He did well with the bat and even contributed with the ball as well. One feels that unlike in England, India should go with a safety-first approach in Australia, and play six batsmen. In the Australia series, Vihari can be entrusted with that crucial position.
Unlike Hardik Pandya, Vihari is a proper batsman, and he can also chip in with the ball to give rest to the four frontline bowlers. Some runs against the West Indies and possibly, a wicket or two, will do him and the team no harm.
India need not play six batsmen. The wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant is more than a handy batsman at the number six position in Indian conditions.