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Different strokes: Expect more aggressive India under Kohli

Different strokes: Expect more aggressive India under Kohli

Already two days are lost and unless the hosts capitulate meekly, which is unlikely, and lose 20 wickets in remaining two days, a result is a distant possibility.



By Sunil Vaidya (sports Editor)

Published: Sat 13 Jun 2015, 10:22 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:47 PM

It would be hard to find an answer as to why would anyone plan a Test cricket match in monsoon, that too in Bangladesh, a country known for tropical monsoon and heavy rains from June onwards.

Already two days are lost and unless the hosts capitulate meekly, which is unlikely, and lose 20 wickets in remaining two days, a result is a distant possibility.

The one-off Test tour came close on the heels of a hectic schedule in shorter formats of the game for the Indian players. Soon after the 50-over World Cup the Indian players, barring Cheteshwar Pujara, were busy with the IPL T20. Ergo, India’s tour of Bangladesh amidst tropical monsoon serves no purpose.

On the other hand the only Test match has given glimpses of what to expect from this Indian side under young captain Virat Kohli and aggressive coach (assuming he would continue as a coach) Ravi Shastri.

Seems the days of safety-first approach are passé.

The formation of the Indian team for the only Test against Bangladesh was probably the first step in the direction of an aggressive Indian Test team.

India had always played with seven batsmen in their Test playing eleven under M.S. Dhoni but Kohli charted another course. He picked five bowlers and six batsmen. Also, he preferred aggressive ODI ace Rohit Sharma instead of Test specialist Pujara in the starting eleven of the only Test. With Lokesh Rahul, who scored a century at number three in his second Test in Australia, out of the tour of Bangladesh due to illness, Pujara was thought to be the automatic choice.

However, that was not to be and Kohli preferred Sharma, who hasn’t had anything impressive to show as a Test batsman. A batsman, who has two ODI double hundreds, is obviously a special talent and if Sharma clicks at number three, Kohli can expect quick scoring as against grafting for which Pujara is known.

Since February 2014, both Pujara and Sharma have been equally average in their respective Test performances.

Both managed only two 50s and both have averages in mid 20s. Sharma’s IPL performance probably tilted the scale in his favour as Pujara did not play in the popular T20 tournament. Once touted as a perfect replacement for Rahul Dravid, Pujara has failed to show consistency after two double hundreds and 1650 runs in his first 19 Tests.

He has had a good stint with Yorkshire in English Country, scoring 264 runs in four matches at an average of 52.80, including a century.

But obviously that was not enough to impress Kohli as well as Shastri. Pujara, not best of the fielders, may also lose out on the count of fielding to Sharma, who is one of the best fielders in the Indian team. As long as Murali Vijay grafts, Dhawan piles quick runs and Ajinkya Rahane chips in with useful late middle order runs, Kohli may continue to prefer Sharma at number three.

Pujara will have to adapt like Rahane if he wants to make a comeback and keep his place in the Indian team. Rahane has shown how a batman moulded more in orthodox technique can succeed in all three formats, Pujara needs to take a leaf out of Rahane’s book to play improve his game in shorter versions to lengthen his international playing career.

Time will tell if the gifted Pujara survived or perished to the demands of the modern cricket but one thing is sure that under Kohli we will see a different India with an aggressive streak.

sunilvaidya@khaleejtimes.com 


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