Since the retirement of consistent batsman Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar the Indian cricket team has been struggling to find quality middle order batsmen. The Indian team has tried many options in the middle order for the past 2 years in Test cricket but no one has lived up to the expectations and cemented the positions especially at no 4 and 5. In the Indian cricket team‘s tour to England and Australia in 2014 and 2015 exposed badly the limitation of our middle order. The Indian pace bowling has also not been good enough to take 20 wickets to win the Test matches. Here we look at Indian challenges in Sri Lanka for the series starting 12 August 2015:
In the recent months Vijay has established himself as an opener by performing well in Australia against top quality bowling. He also performed well in the Test match against Bangladesh. Shikhar Dhawan has been inconsistent with his performance in the Test series against Australia but did well against Bangladesh. K L Rahul got 2 chances against Australia in lieu of Dhawan and he did hit a century in the second Test of them. The Indian team needs to start well in the test matches and openers have to play an important role. I think M Vijay and Rahul to be the good combination. Shikhar Dhawan could also open in the first Test match.
The Indian team middle order which comprises of Pujara, Kohli, Rahane and Rohit needs to perform well. Kohli struggled in England but scored 4 centuries against Australia thus cementing no 3 slot automatically. Pujara failed in England and Australia to the extent he was not given any chance in the tour of Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma has been inconsistent too both in England and Australia though he played well in ODIs. In the practice match Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma failed to score in SriLanka that ended today. Coming to Rahane he has been consistent both in England and Australia and therefore my choice for position no 4. Rohit may be brought down at no 5 followed by Chatteshwar Pujara. The current wicketkeeper batsman Wriddhman Saha is not as reliable batsman as Ms Dhoni and if India needs to win the series he needs to contribute with bat as MS Dhoni used to do.
The Indian fast bowling is major worry for the country. The fast bowling comprises of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, who need to bowl well as a unit and pick early wickets. All these have been bowling fairly well on their day but more than one needs to be consistent enough in all matches to pick up early wickets and even with old ball bowling reverse swing. Out of these 5 bowlers, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron have good pace but not consistent with line and length, while other 2 bowlers have been struggling for pace. The Indian team has been struggling for picking 20 wickets for want of contribution from Pace team. Spinners in Ashwin , Harbhajan and Mishra will do their best but If India has to win the series against Sri Lanka the pacers have to pick early wickets and put less pressure on the spinners. The fast bowling has potential but need to be more patient, consistent and stamina so that they do not give away too many runs.