It seems that ahead of the all-important Test series, a few unusual decisions are being made on both teams. India’s surprise line up for the tour match under lights at the Sydney Cricket Ground raised a few questions and eyebrows. And Virat Kohli was just one of them.
Cheteshwar Pujara played the first tour match but didn’t play the second. KL Rahul was given a break and the Indian skipper was rested. With the first Test set to get underway in less than a week, it seemed like erratic decisions were being made.
After all, was not Virat here only for the first Test? With so much weight on his shoulders, carrying on the momentum from the shorter version of the game would be vital if India are throwing all their eggs on their winning the first Test, that too in a first day and night Test for India down under, on the back of Virat Kohli’s performance.
Pujara is here only for the Test series and Rohit Sharma still a doubtful starter, this might be KL Rahul’s moment as well. Why is India’s best specialist Test batsman being made to sit out? Is there is a worry about the erosion of confidence after his last dismissal was dissected despite a half-century?
There was going to be no question of too much cricket for Pujara or for that matter, Virat Kohli because while Pujara had only been selected for the Test format, Kohli is returning to India after the first Test. With this being Kohli’s only assignment for a fair measure of time since he will not be rejoining the team, perhaps it would have been more prudent to flex those Test cricket muscles with the bat and with the captaincy before the first Test.
KL Rahul might be playing all formats. He might be the man being put forth as Virat Kohli’s successor. But then if he is the aspirant to the captaincy, he must shoulder greater responsibility. And preparing for the Test series has to be par for the course as part of that grind. Would not have the tour match helped me find more rhythm to the bigger job ahead?
The bowlers were given a full workout while the batsmen were allowed to rest, where clearly there is the argument being put forth that while bowlers are fiercely informed on both sides, it is the batsmen who will make the difference with their performance.
After all, it has to be remembered that Virat Kohli himself had alluded to his team playing a lot of Twenty20 to why they could not adapt fairly quickly to stemming the Australian resurgence in the fifty overs a side format. In that light, given that India played the Twenty20 internationals again ahead of the Test series, should it have made more sense for them to be getting out in the middle and possibly doing what Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari were doing, getting some runs under their belt, confidence as well as momentum?