Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Tough calls await India after stand-in players shine. Will they get their due reward?
Will they get their due reward?
One of the benefits of India's series win against New Zealand was that they are back on top of the ICC World Test rankings, pushing the Kiwis to the No 2. While they can have the bragging rights for now, in reality, it is only a notional gain, since the rankings have little meaning when there is a World Test Championship (WTC) points system which, counted on the percentage of wins in Tests, has more competitive relevance. India is No. 3 there with Sri Lanka and Pakistan ahead right now.
For India, there were gains elsewhere too with standout individual performances, particularly with the bat, but they stand to be relegated to the notional status if the Indian team management's decisions going forward don't reflect the value of performances in the series. None of the performers in this series is guaranteed a position in the eleven when the more-fancied players return. Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, for instance. Another name in that comeback list, is a certain Hanuma Vihari too.
The raging question on the back of these performances by the newer players are the lack of runs from the senior men, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Rahane's last 10 innings read like this: 15, 5, 1, 61, 18, 10, 14, 0, 35, 4 for a horrid total of 163 runs at a minuscule average of 16.32. Pujara's numbers are slightly better with one more half-century and for a total of 306 runs in his last 10 innings. They are 9, 45, 1, 91, 4, 61, 26, 22, 0, 47 at an average of 30.6.
But is the Indian team ready for a middle order shake-up? “It's a good situation to be in,” said coach Rahul Dravid without actually making a commitment. “Good to see the boys step up and take their opportunities, we were missing a few seniors, but the youngsters have taken their chances. A lot of these guys don't get the opportunity to play a lot (of Test cricket), but it's nice to see them do well, especially the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, Axar Patel and Jayant. That gives us a lot of choices when the seniors do return.”
Virat Kohli acknowledged the pressure from outside,but sounded indifferent to changes. “There's a lot going on outside and we can't let those things affect the way we play. We support everybody in the side, Ajinkya or anyone. We don't take decisions based on what happens outside,” the skipper said adding, “That's a discussion (about middle-order changes) that needs to take place. Who we think are the specialists for certain positions and so on will be covered there. These aren't things I can answer in a press conference, we need to sit down with it and come to collective decisions. That's the same process we will follow. Everyone puts in their ideas and then we make our decision.”
Shubman Gill was impressive in Mumbai and earlier in Kanpur, Shreyas Iyer has made the best of the opportunity that came his way, by scoring a century and half century in his debut game at the Green Park and Mayank Agarwal was unstoppable at the Wankhede. Vihari, meanwhile, has scored an unbeaten 72 for India A in South Africa where the Indian team's next big challenge comes.
But how many of them will remain in the frontline for further battles that lie ahead?