I am back after a long break from blogging. After the IPL, the only series India played was against SL that contained 1 T20 and 5 ODIs. I did watch some parts of that series, but was not motivated enough to blog about it. In the end, it turned out to be an easy win for India in that series.
The real action starts now, with 2 tests against NZ, followed by the T20 World Cup, Champions League T20, and series against England and Australia. The biggest news prior to the NZ series is obviously the retirement of VVS Laxman. While I think VVS could have played for another year or so with no questions asked, especially now that Rahul Dravid is retired, I also think that VVS made the right decision to quit now at the start of the season. Once again, he has shown that he is the ultimate team man putting the needs of the team above everything else. So now we have 2 identify players for 2 vital spots in the middle order - number 3 and 5. I think Virat will move up to 5 and probably Pujara will bat at 3 in the NZ series at least. That still leaves the crucial number 6 slot open and it will be interesting to see who fills that slot in this series and the next few matches after that. For the NZ series, it looks like the battle is between Raina and Badrinath with Raina probably having the slight upper hand to start with. In Indian conditions, I dont think Raina is a bad choice, but I will be closely watching his technique, ability to bat with the tail and against the second new ball before making any conclusions about him being our find for the number 6 position.
This series against NZ should not challenge India too much. The wickets will not be very conducive to their fast bowlers and with Vettori out, they don’t have a world-class spinner and I think the Indian batsmen will be able to play the other spinners well. However, this series is important because it gives us a chance to see the contenders for the number 3, 5 and 6 spots. If Pujara and Kohli do well, that will be great because they do possess the talent to succeed at the top level and will hopefully be around for a long time since they are so young. The real challenge for India this year will be against England. They are a team that has been dethroned from the number 1 position and will be smarting from their comprehensive defeat against South Africa, so they will come to India with a point to prove. Their bowling attack will challenge the young ones in the Indian batting order the most, so that is a battle I am looking forward to.
As I write this, Pujara has made a hundred on day one of the Hyderabad test and that is good news. Kohli also did well, but Raina has failed. India need another 100 runs at least so that they can call the shots while bowling. I will be watching the spinners, Ashwin and Ojha, particularly in their approach to bowling in tests in India. Ashwin needs to attack more in my opinion. Ojha is an attacking bowler by nature, but he needs a good performance against NZ to make his position more secure as the second-choice spinner in tests.
I would like to share one more news before ending this post. India U-19 team have done very well to reach the finals of the World Cup in Australia. The pitches have not been easy to bat on, but our batsmen have done enough to setup totals for the bowlers to defend. The heartening aspect of India’s performance has been the fact that it is the bowling that has been carrying the team. Hopefully, some of these players will go on to make the senior team. Some of the guys I have been impressed with are Sandeep Sharma the opening bowler, Baba Aparajith the all-rounder, Harmeet Singh the left-arm spinner and Unmukt Chand the opener.
I will continue to post regularly from now on. My next post will be after the Hyderabad test, so stay tuned.