Former India cricketer and noted cricket columnist Aakash Chopra speaks about India’s chances in the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka
Tough challenges ahead of India
Sri Lanka, as always, are going to be a tough team to beat in their own backyard. Like most teams, they too tend to punch above their weight when they play at home. India have a decent side, but lack the bowling to take 20 wickets in Test matches.
Batting key for India
India’s strength, like always, lies in their batting. It will take a lot of good and imaginative bowling to get past the strong Indian line-up.
India’s bowling, though, looks a bit brittle to me. Now, that Zaheer is also ruled out of the series, other bowlers have their task cut out. Two seamers, Ishant and Sreesanth haven’t played much cricket lately. Bhajji will have to shoulder the responsibility of leading the attack.
Mahela & Malinga can spoil India’s party
Mahela Jayawardene is the biggest threat to India’s chances. When he gets going, he converts 100s into 200s and that might spell doom for us. Malinga, with his lethal reverse swing would also ignite interest once the ball gets a bit old.
Zaheer’s injury a big blow
Zaheer’s injury is a serious blow to India’s chances in the series. He’s the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack for quite a while and he will surely be missed. Now, the two big questions loom large…1. Who’ll make early inroads? and 2. Who’ll trouble the batsmen once the ball gets old?
Overall, India’s pace bowling unit looks depleted for sure. Ishant and Sreesanth have the caliber to do well at this level, but might take some time to get into the groove because they are making a comeback. Also, there’s not sufficient back-up in the squad to serve as replacements if things go awry.
Everything depends on Bhajji
Bhajji will have to lead by example. Both Mishra and Ojha are still rookies at this level and might find the slow tracks in Sri Lanka tough to bowl-on in the beginning.
Gauti, Viru need to fire
India’s batting is as strong as ever. At the top, Viru and Gauti make one of the most formidable and fearsome opening combinations in the world. Then we have Dravid, Sachin, Laxman, Yuvraj and MSD to follow. This batting line-up would give sleepless nights to a lot of bowlers. But this would depend a lot if the Delhi lads fire at the top.
Time to groom young batsmen
The only way to groom someone is to give him ample opportunities. Selection must be followed by giving a long enough rope to excel at the highest level. I think Pujara is the most likely candidate to fill the void in the middle order whenever VVS, Dravid etc hang their boots.
Pujara should have been included
There’s a strong case to pick him for the longer format. If the selectors are looking at him as the future Test prospect then perhaps, yes. He could have been given the opportunity.
Yuvraj’s inclusion in Test team
Yuvraj Singh’s selection is a peculiar one. It was along the expected lines, but makes you wonder that why was he rested in the ODIs?
Murali, a legend
He’s a legend. The Indian in me, for obvious reasons, doesn’t want him to take those 8 wickets he needs to eclipse the 800-wicket mark in the first Test. But, the cricketer in me wishes him all the luck to reach the milestone. This is one record which may not be breached ever.
Murali’s void difficult to fill
His shoes are too big for anyone to fill. He would leave such a big void in Sri Lankan cricket which might take decades to fill. They may never get another bowler as good as Muralitharan. Australian cricket is also facing the similar problem after Warne’s retirement. Sri Lanka, like Australia, would still remain a good team, but might take longer to take those 20 wickets to win a Test match.
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