Another one bites the dust. As India looked to get back up on their feet after batting debacles in the first two Tests, they sacrificed another proven performer in the pursuit of results.
It’s a clear that Virat Kohli‘s Indian team values results over everything else. Sheer grit shown without any actual results gets forgotten a lot sooner than should be the case. During the last tour of England, opener Murali Vijay scored 146 and 52 in the Nottingham Test. This year, he was dropped for the third match at Trent Bridge and his spot went to Shikhar Dhawan.
Dhawan has his own weaknesses against the away-moving ball but credit to him for adding 60 for the opening stand in Trent Bridge. But that is beside the point. The fact is when Kohli picked the playing XI, he had more faith in the busy cricket of Dhawan than the steadiness of Vijay. Admitted, Vijay bagged a pair in the second Test but apart from Kohli, and bowlers/all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravi Ashwin, no one scored any runs there. KL Rahul’s highest score in four innings was 13 but he retained his spot.
Slowly, the Indian Test team is pushing the ‘grafters’ to the sidelines. Positive is a new buzzword and if you look like your are always on the hunt – for fours, singles or wickets – there is a greater chance of acceptance within the team.
It started with Cheteshwar Pujara in 2016. He wasn’t considered forceful enough, was told so and ended up getting involved in six of the next eight Indian run-outs in Tests. And he was run-out by his captain Kohli in the second Test at Lord’s after being dropped from the first.
Ravindra Jadeja has been reduced to a Test specialist but when the opportunity came to have two spinners in the second Test at Lord’s – even though it was a wrong call – India went with wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav and not the left-armer who was instrumental in making India the No1 Test team in the world. What’s worse, Kuldeep got a pair and bowled nine fruitless overs. Jadeja couldn’t have been worse.
This new strategy might still work for the Indian team. Who knows, they might spark a remarkable comeback in the five-Test series in England, do even better in Australia and prove the aggression-first policy as the right one.
But that won’t give any comfort to the likes of Vijay, Jadeja and Pujara who are basically Test specialists now and are being squeezed out in favour of those who are good enough and do a bit of everything.
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