Virat Kohli’s superb fighting ton at Adelaide was the last nail in the coffin that is carrying two of the finest batsmen of our generation. His century may not be ranked among the best of all time, but it can be termed as one of the most significant tons as far as the Indian cricket is concerned. Because it will help Indian cricket usher an all new era, an era without Sachin, Dravid, Laxman or maybe even Sehwag.
So this ton is more significant than Sachin’s elusive and most talked-about 100th international century.
This century and the two knocks he played at Perth before were enough indications that the new generation has the capability to replace our ageing superstars in Tests.
Before that, very few people were convinced about the ability of the youngsters in Tests. And they were not without logic, considering the fact that nobody could fill the shoes of Ganguly at No. 6 for three years.
We now blame the selectors for not having proper
plans to phase out the seniors in the team. To be very honest, the phase out process started three years back after Ganguly’s retirement in 2008. Selectors gave enough chances to potential replacements only to be disappointed by their performances.
Yuvraj Singh was given ample opportunities to revive his flagging Test career. He failed to utilise them. Then came another southpaw- Suresh Raina. He started his Test career with a bang, hitting a debut ton against Sri Lanka. Everyone thought he was the answer.
He looked a good batsman in the slow and low pitches of sub-continent. But once he travelled to South Africa, he was exposed badly. On the bouncy tracks, his stays at the crease become shorter and shorter.
Yuvraj was again preferred over Raina in England where India first saw the overseas batting slump which has continued in Australia. Both the batsmen kept swapping each other’s place in the side, no one finally making it a permanent slot.
In the meantime, different young rookies were tested when the established stars missed out on Tests due to injuries or other reasons.
Tamil Nadu opener M Vijay initially looked good in his first few outings in Indian conditions, but his technique was found wanting against the moving balls. His state-mate and fellow opener Abhinav Mukund got chances in West Indies and England. He came up with some gritty knocks but never looked convincing and a final article for the Test match battles.
The only one player who showed some promise was Saurashtra batsman Cheteshwar Pujara. He impressed one and all with his technique and temperament. But his unfortunate injury in South Africa meant there was nobody among the upcoming Indian batsmen who could keep the star Indian batsmen on their toes, let alone replace them.
Even talented Kohli, who set the ODIs on fire in his early days, and was considered to be an ideal man for Tests, took a long time to come good in Tests. It’s good that selectors and team management kept their faith in him.
As far as Rohit Sharma is concerned, nobody was sure about his temperament for Tests. He frittered away a lot of opportunities earlier and he had hardly given the feeling that he meant business.
The reason: Phase out was not possible in Tests. So the real question is: Did we have the options to go without our star batsmen in Australia? It’s very easy to blame the selectors when the going gets tough for us.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)