Sarfaraz Khan and Prithvi Shaw IPL 2023
Shaw and Sarfaraz have been unable to deal with the challenge of facing a handful of deliveries from fast bowlers in the ongoing IPL.

Over the last couple of seasons, there has been a massive hullabaloo among Indian cricket experts backing the inclusion of Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan in the national Test team. The clamour has been constantly growing as both batters have produced fantastic performances in domestic cricket. 

While Shaw has already played Test cricket and even holds the record for being the youngest batter to score a Test hundred on debut for India, his international career hasn’t quite taken off after that due to form and disciplinary issues. As for Sarfaraz, selectors seem concerned over his physical weight more than the weight of his runs in domestic cricket.

If we look at the first-class records of the two players, Shaw has played 42 matches since making his debut in 2017. He has hammered 3679 runs at an average of 51.09, with 12 hundred and 15 fifties. There have been some swashbuckling knocks in the same. 

Sarfaraz has done even better in his domestic career. In 37 matches, he has scored 3505 runs at a splendid average of 79.65, with 13 hundred and nine fifties. Over the last two seasons, his performances in domestic cricket have been on a totally different level, with even the legendary Sunil Gavaskar questioning his non-inclusion in the Indian team.

IPL struggles an eye opener 

While the frustration of Indian fans and experts over the continued non-inclusion of Shaw and Sarfaraz in the Test team is understandable, considering the amazing success the duo has had on the domestic circuit, their IPL struggles should be an eye-opener for everyone, including the players themselves. Both the Mumbai batters have been found out brutally against genuine pace and have looked completely unconformable against fast bowling.

The worry over Shaw and Sarfaraz regarding their IPL 2023 failures so far is that in the T20 format, batters only have to face 3-4 overs of hostile pace bowling at best. Most franchises have only one genuine fast bowler, backed by medium pacers and spinners. As such, batters should find it easier to deal with faster men since field restrictions and bouncer restrictions are also in place. However, Shaw and Sarfaraz have been unable to deal with the challenge of facing a handful of deliveries from fast bowlers in the ongoing IPL. And this raises serious question marks over their future as Test cricketers. 

When it comes to the sacrosanct format of the sport, batters have to deal with much more challenging obstacles against fast bowlers. The pacers can run in hard and bowl hostile spells for an extended period. Great fast bowlers hardy provide any respite for batters, constantly bowling nagging line and lengths with pace, asking many tough questions of the batters. 

Pacers can also utilize the bouncers a lot more effectively in the Test format. They can constantly be at the throat of the batters. Plus, unlike in T20 cricket, where surfaces are mostly batter-friendly, Test cricket comes with the challenge of surviving and performing in varied conditions – from seaming and swinging tracks to rank turners. Every Test comes with a different challenge, and one needs patience and perseverance apart from raw talent to succeed.

Is Jaiswal a more worthy contender?

Suppose domestic cricket coupled with IPL performances is considered the test selection criteria for Indian batters. In that case, another cricketer from Mumbai, Yashasvi Jaiswal, emerges as a much more worthy contender. The 21-year-old has made an exceptional start to his first-class career. In 15 matches, he has smashed 1845 runs at a stupendous average of 80.21, with as many as nine hundreds and two half-centuries – an extraordinary conversion rate.

Unlike Shaw and Sarfaraz, Jaiswal is excelling in the ongoing IPL, having also come up with a couple of cracking performances. However, it is fair to say that these are still very early days in his career, and fast-tracking him into the Indian team might not be a smart move. At the same time, Shaw and Sarfaraz, despite being comparatively more experienced than Jaiswal, still seem raw for Test cricket. Their IPL struggles have firmly reiterated the point. 

India made a blunder by handing a Test debut to Suryakumar Yadav against Australia. He hasn’t been the same batter since. Better sense must prevail with regard to Shaw and Sarfaraz when it comes to talking about their Test inclusion.