“If you want to win, get serious!” Not my quote, but just a humble request to our doting Indian Cricket Team that in the next few hours, shall be confronted by the Boxing Day Test.
To many- this can’t be any easy. After all, it’s Australia and the Aussies at home are usually very strong.
We saw that recently in the form of an endlessly harrowing scorecard.
But hey- ever wondered if there could be a change in the narrative: why can’t Team India play the oppressor (read aggressor)? In fact, will that even be easy?
Virat Kohli is not the captain anymore. He’s, in fact, going to be watching live proceedings from India.
Pujara, is yet to score a fifty, let alone a century. Though, this isn’t just a Rahul Dravid-in- making as they say, but someone who fired the team to the 2018 series win.
So excellent was the one and only Rajkot-born light-eyed man that he fired 521 runs the last time around.
In great contrast to Pujara, who often goes unsung, his captain didn’t touch 300 runs (7 innings).
So in the Boxing Day Test, what different can one expect from the man in whose ebb rest most runs in the playing eleven?
But while conjecture can happen endlessly so, the following are some plans the team may most definitely want to execute in order to mount a fightback:
Get Gill- Optimism dictates- Sab Shubh Hoga
Never a better time than now to get Subhuman Gill into the team- right? Maybe, the Boxing Day Test could just be that opportunity where Team India finally corrects some wrongs and gets, in the process of doing so, another promising youngster among the ranks.
For starters, a dogged right-hander, Subhuman Gill has already tasted what it means to play alongside members of the famous Team India, albeit in the IPL (been a feature of the KKR camp)!
The boy who scored voraciously back in the Under-19 2018 World Cup, conjuring no fewer than 418 runs (average of 104) could well be the strong force in India’s middle-order that the unit is currently craving for.
Time For At Least One Century By Pujara and Rahane
The last that India’s captain for the Boxing Day Test as also for the remainder of the series raised his bat for a three-figure score in Test match cricket, was back in 2019.
An incredible 115 scored at home but against South Africa raised great hopes that runs would finally ooze from the willow of the man all expected- and probably still do- to become the next Rahul Dravid.
That said, Rahane, a scorer of 11 centuries and 4,245 (66 Tests), with an average of 42.4 may want to show the way where the Boxing Day test is concerned.
After all, he’s the captain and was, where the occasion of the infamous 36 all out scorecard stood, the one who was responsible for sending Kohli back to the pavilion.
That told, how about if Cheteshwar Pujara- the rock at #3- was to join in and notch up a mega hundred, too?
Wouldn’t that be truly beautiful, and above anything, just the kind of respite the vanquished side would be hoping for at the MCG?
Enter Rahul as opener, Exit Shaw
One of the things India could probably end up doing is to let Shaw sit out only to allow another more competent batsman- at least on current terms- to step in.
Comparisons be damned but there’s little reason to doubt that the mega soon-to-commence MCG clash is going to be one heck of a battle.
And where the Second Test of this long series (this is when both T20Is and ODIs have already been held) is concerned, then no prizes for guessing on whom shall remain the maximum or most focus.
Probably not a better time (than now) to re-plug none other than Lokesh Rahul aka KL Rahul into the team.
Where 2020 on its own is concerned then Kl Rahul didn’t get a chance to wield the bat in Tests but then who did.
Where the ODIs are concerned, then Rahul raised the game and heck, by quite a stretch.
Wondering how? Well, in 2020 alone, he thudded 443 runs from (just) 9 contests in the 50-over format. Furthermore, this very batsman, who struck that incredible 199 (in the very same game where Karun Nair’s triple hundred frustrated England in 2016) fired runs in New Zealand (early visitors) and kept his wits about himself against the West Indies who came much latter calling.
Technique, solidity, and that ever-growing stature as a premier batsman: KL, who must play the Boxing day Test, has it all. And in a short span of time, has also accumulated over 2,000 runs (in he long format).
May he bat (and keep) and des all he can in order to inspire- who knows- memes that liken him to yet another Rahul; ever heard of The Dark Knight!
Pant for Saha
Rishabh Pant ought to play the Boxing Day Test. With all due respect and much-needed regard for the wonderful (and tenacious) Wriddhiman Saha,the conditions at the MCG shall perhaps put to test one’s ability to endure.
And in that department, one would say that the fiery batsman (and one who hit the first ball he faced in Australia for a six) is better suited as the MCG Test is effectively, a do-or-die for India.
Saha’s grit and simplicity, make no mistake, make him second to none. But is he the one Team India needs to counter the many punches and jolts that are yet to come- we yet to see!
Siraj To Replace Injured Shami
A few hours back, the biggest piece of cricketing news- at least, in Indian cricket circles- was that Mohd. Siraj was to make his Test match debut. This was, essentially (if not only) down to the fact that premier fast medium bowler Mohd. Shami was ruled out (owing to a thumb injury).
Where Shami, a genuine match-winner, is going to be sorely missed, not just for his effective line and control, not to mention, his hitting the deck had, one hopes to see a different contestant forge his own destiny for Indian cricket.
Incidentally, Mohd. Siraj also confessed that it’s none other than Rahul Dravid who happens to be a role model figure.
So can we expect something then from the great trier at the MCG? What do you reckon- will play/ or/ won’t play!
Zero Scope For Butter Fingers
Let’s get honest and ask ourselves a clear question.
In the not-so-famous Test match that concluded with India being bundled over for 36 (not more), the biggest subject of furore was the state of India’s fielding.
How and why did a team so powerful and successful as the Kohli-led side succumb to such humiliation?
What about the three dropped chances given to Marnus Labuchasgne? What about captain Tim Paine being helped with no fewer than 2-3 times?
How many catches, across the limited-overs series- did Team India grass?
Who’s going to remind a team of grown ups that catches win matches and where you don’t end up on the winning side, it only means you dropped one too many for your own comfort.