gruelling test

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Nov 2017 12:13:39

IN THE last couple of years the Indian cricket team has been mostly playing in domestic conditions and the run for the Virat Kohli-led Team India has been fantastic, topping the charts in international cricket. Beginning new year, from January 2018 onwards, the Indian team would be stepping out of its domestic confines to test waters abroad with a two-month gruelling tour of South Africa. South Africa are currently at the top and would be playing in home conditions against an Indian team under new skipper whose rate of success has been impeccable so far. Thus it would be a test for both the teams, with both having fantastic all-round capabilities, an encounter between two equi-balanced teams. 

Batting coach of the Indian team Sanjay Bangar and bowling coach R. Sridhar have said that the on-going test series against Sri Lanka is a good preparation for the forthcoming South African tour as wicket like the one at Kolkota’s Eden Gardens provides ideal conditions which would be akin to conditions in South Africa. Indeed the rain-soaked Eden Gardens wicket thoroughly tested the skills of Indian batsmen in the first innings with most batsmen unable to find their feet, of course with the exception of Tejeswar Pujara. Pujara stood his ground firmly and earned a well-deserved 50 while wickets fell at on the other end in a heap. And when their turn came the Indian bowlers were spewing fire to the discomfiture of the Sri Lankan batsmen. Thus for both Indian bowlers and batsmen the Kolkota test has proved to be a good preparation for what will be in store for them on the tour of South Africa.

While the Indian batting side, led by the captain himself, has gained much strength over time, with addition of a couple all-rounders ready to make their presence felt by substantially contributing to the scoreboard, it is the bowling strength that seems to be enviable currently. Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathew and former Indian pace-spearhead Ashish Nehra were effusive in their praise for bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvanesh Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya. Besides there are many others in the country who can easily walk into the national team any time.

The talk so far had centred around the bench strength in batting, which had been the mainstay of the Indian team for many years in the past but much weaker bowling side. But things have changed recently. There is a rich crop of young, genuine pace bowlers as well as spinners who are engaged in an intense competition with each other to gain space in the national team. The forthcoming South African tour would offer opportunities to most of them. It will both be an opportunity as well as a testing ground for most of them.