Ajinka Rahane’s return to the colors of the Indian national team lasts just one test. And while he was India’s most successful batsman in the World Test final at the Oval, his appointment as vice-captain for the next Test series seems like a knee-jerk reaction. An unsuccessful series in the Caribbean could take him out of the squad again. Although he has led India admirably in the past, this decision seems made by looking in the rearview mirror. With Rahane now over 35, Gill could be a better choice as vice-captain or even captain if Rohit gets a rest.
Were the big guns needed?
The test lineup chosen, with the exception of a few new names, is not much different than the one that would have been chosen for the series against much stronger opposition. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj will be licking their lips in anticipation of easy runs and wickets. All of them, with the possible exception of Ashwin, will definitely be in the World Cup 50-over this year. An injury on a modest tour could be a disaster when the next chance to end a decade-long drought in winning major ICC silverware falls at the white-ball tournament.
What’s next for Pujara?
He didn’t play his best match against the Australians, but the selectors had to call out Cheteshwar Pujara earlier, deeming him redundant. If the other senior players, who have been struggling in Tests lately, manage to score some easy points in the Caribbean, Pujara may well feel left out. If the hard fielding is difficult, he will still be the only Indian batsman who can be expected to struggle for a long time. But this is not the first time Pujara has suffered because of the impatience of selectors and their inability to address the lack of returns from big names.Pujara is the second Indian player to score the most runs in the WTC cycle (2021-23). His 928 runs are just four fewer than Kohli’s 932. Kohli is only slightly better at 45.53 and Pujara is 42.58.
Why Ruturaj instead of Sarfaraz/Easwaran?
Lineup selection is not just a numbers game. It’s an assessment of a player and what he can give at a higher level. Ruthuraj Gaikwad and Yashaswi Jaiswal made heads turn in the recent IPL season, but getting into the Test squad based on 20-over performances will make some traditionalists squirm. Jaiswal,at least has an average above 80 in 15 Grade 1 games, and Gaikwad has scored 1,941 runs in 28 games at just over 42 years old — numbers that can only be described as decent.In contrast, Sarfaraz Khan has been breaking records in the Ranji Trophy for the past few seasons, but still can’t get a spot in the lineup. Easwaran also went through a long apprenticeship, but both proved underprepared when it came to the next step up. Sarfaraz was found guilty of extra pace and short pitches in the IPL, while Easwaran did not impress the team management enough when he was in the national team.
Even so, picking someone for the Test team based on what he did in the IPL is a big leap of faith.
Why Mukesh, Unadkat?
He was often used as an impact substitute in the Delhi Capitals team in the IPL, coming on as a substitute to play a couple of minutes in the final minutes. Mukesh Kumar’s selection seems to have been a reward for putting in his best effort and making a difference in home cricket. A 21.55 average and 149 scalps in 39 first-class matches show he knows what he’s doing. But the 29-year-old does not possess the high pace or rebounding to make an immediate impact at the international level.
Jaidev Unadkat was injured during the IPL but still made the squad for the WTC finals without threatening to make the roster. His two Test appearances 12 years apart did not do him any good. He’s tall but not fast and, other than a lefty farmer’s corner, doesn’t bring anything special to the game. Captain Saurashtra has been a stronghold of domestic cricket and has caused intense bidding in the IPL auctions, but if he were to make an impact at the highest level, he would have done so by now.
Someone like Umran Malik could have provided the necessary X-factor with his lightning pace. Sunrisers Hyderabad didn’t handle him properly, but even a few failed overs hardly cost the team a Test in the West Indies, this could have been an opportunity to see what he is all about.
Why would Shami need a rest?
It looks like the selectors have run out of patience with Umesh Yadav again, but by giving Mohammed Shami a rest, they may be protecting their main asset ahead of the 50-over World Cup. The veteran pacer was unable to take full advantage of favorable conditionsme in the WTC finals, but as Jasprit Bumrah’s return after a long injury-related hiatus is shrouded in uncertainty, Shami will likely be the leader of the Pacers pack when the main event comes around. This scenario calls into question the notion of great depth in Indian pace bowling.reserves, and points the finger at injury management.