Indian selection for the five-match Test series against England, which begins on August 1, is going to give selectors and management an almighty headache.
If combinations were difficult to finalise before the nearly three-month long tour of Ireland and England started, it’s only become tougher two weeks before the opening Test.
The Indian selectors have decided to announce the squad at the last possible moment, either on Sunday or Monday, as they wanted to see if anyone impressed or disappointed enough to warrant a change of plans during the limited-overs clashes with England so far. Let’s not forget there is the India A team as well that has played alongside their senior team in one-day and four-day matches.
Having said that, there were a few certainties when it came to the hierarchy in team. In typically English weather, most pack their team with seamers and have one quality spinner in the side for the second innings.
Exactly. I can't believe the number of ex-cricketers and commentators who are talking about picking Kuldeep *ahead of* Ashwin and Jadeja. Graeme Swann has been especially annoying. It's almost like 94 Tests and 487 wickets from two guys who are 31 and 29 are suddenly irrelevant.— Karthik Krishnaswamy (@the_kk) July 14, 2018
But this time two factors have changed their conversation in the Indian set-up. Firstly, an uncharacteristically dry spell has meant pitches in England this time of the year are particularly dry with groundsmen struggling to provide adequate swing and bounce.
If the situation persists, the whole one-spinner, rest seamers formula can be revisited by the Indian management.
The second factor that has become the elephant in the room is left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav. England have failed to pick the 23-year-old, it’s as simple as that. Also, a majority of his dismissals have been of the Test variety – beaten in the air and stumped, bowled or lbw neck and crop.
Also, captain Virat Kohli has stated that both Kuldeep and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal can be selected for the Test series. Which is not the best idea because playing spinners in white ball cricket, when batsmen don’t have the option of playing out one spell after the other, and facing them in Tests where patience and consistency are key are two different ball games. But hey, this is Kohli’s India and anything is possible. At the beginning of the year, the Indians had inducted white ball specialist Jasprit Bumrah in the Test team for the South Africa series after being impressed with the way he bowled in the nets.
So, there is every chance Kuldeep and/or Chahal will get selected. If that happens, what happens to Ravi Ashwin and more importantly Ravindra Jadeja? These two spinners have been instrumental in helping India remain as the No.1 Test team in the world. And while they haven’t won Test series in major nations outside the subcontinent, 319 wickets for Ashwin and Jadeja’s 171 scalps can’t be simply brushed aside.
Having said that, if India decide to go with two spinners, Jadeja is most likely to miss out as Kuldeep has to be in the playing XI going by the tone of Kohli’s statement. If the Indians go with one spinner in the eleven, then does the record breaking 300-wicket taker Ashwin – who also has four Test tons – miss out?
Kohli has never gone in with the same playing XI in successive Test matches. While some decisions have been forced upon him due to injuries, others have been his call. So expect the Indian management to select one or both of Kuldeep and Chahal for the Test series and also the spin hierarchy of Indian cricket to get shuffled this English summer.
Tushar Arothe stepped down as the head coach on Thursday with the 51-year-old revealing strained ties with some of the players following their shock loss to Bangladesh in the T20 Asia Cup final.
India will gather for a training camp on Monday ahead of three ODIs against Sri Lanka from September in what will be vital preparation for November’s World Twenty20 in the West Indies.
Krishnamurthy insists even if there’s no new coach in charge, there’s enough quality in the coaching team to steer India to success against Sri Lanka.
“We have a camp starting from Monday and I’m sure the BCCI have someone who can take that camp forward,” the 25-year-old told Sport360. “Even if we don’t get someone, we still have our fielding coaches and other support team who have been with the team for some time.
“I’m pretty sure we as a team can handle such situations. He (Tushar) stood down and said particular reasons. I don’t have nothing to say on that and I’m not on a committee who decides who will come or go. We as players are all spectators as to what will happen by reading newspapers and browsing the internet.”
Virat Kohli’s team won the three-match T20 series in style in Bristol as they chased down 199 with ease after Rohit Sharma hit his third ton in the format. Eoin Morgan’s England are the top-ranked ODI team in the world and will be a lot more comfortable in a format they have mastered since the 2015 World Cup.
Both teams enter the series with two of the most devastating batting line-ups of contemporary cricket. If England have the likes of Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, the Indians have Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni.
The first match of the series will be played in Nottingham, a venue where England amassed a world-record total of 481-6 against Australia in the recent series they won 5-0. Nottingham is arguably the flattest one-day pitch in the world. It has provided five 400-plus scores in List A cricket and has witnessed the top two totals in ODI cricket – 481-6 and 444-3, both by England.
The Englishmen own three of the 19 totals in excess of 400 in ODIs while India have five. So the chances of a few batting records being broken on Thursday are high. Here we take a look at some of the them.
HIGHEST INNINGS TOTAL
After England came within touching distance of 500 in the match against Australia (481-6) last month, the conversation have moved from if to when the mark will be breached in ODI cricket. Given the batting strength of both teams, there is a chance of the first-ever ODI total of 500. While it was England who have come the closest to the mark, India seem to have a slightly better chance of reaching there on Thursday. India have two wrist spinners in Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav and it’s look highly unlikely that both will go for 10 an over.
HIGHEST MATCH AGGREGATE
The highest match aggregate ever witnessed in an ODI was that manic South Africa-Australia Johannesburg ODI in 2006 when 872 runs were scored with the Proteas chasing down 435. Those two teams had some all-time ODI greats like Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Herschelle Gibbs.
The upcoming clash between England and India also includes some of the best hitters of the modern era. If the wicket is similar to the one witnessed last month, there is a good chance fans will get to witness a run-fest for the ages.
HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL SCORE
India batsman Sharma has the highest individual score in ODI cricket – 264 against Sri Lanka in 2014. In fact, he has three double tons in ODIs under his belt. And he scored a ton in the Bristol T20. The highest knock by an English batsman in ODIs is 180 by Jason Roy against the Aussies earlier in the year.
Chances are, any opener who gets going on Thursday has a good chance of really filling his boots. And maybe even go for 265.