Indian team departed for Sri Lanka on Monday for a three match Test series. Virat Kohli will lead India in the series for the second time after the one off Bangladesh Test. On August 6, India will play a three day warm up match before the official Test starts in August 12. India has not won a Test series in Sri Lanka for more than two decade. Add this to the fact that, India is without a Test match win for last one year, makes pitcure bleak.
On flat Sri Lanka pitches what will be best combination for Indian team? Virat Kohli, in pressers, revealed that he will go with five bowler formula.
Virat Kohli’s five bowlers formula in one off Bangladesh Test was a bravado. But, this time against Sri Lanka, who lost the Test series against Pakistan and will try to turnaround the fortune in their favour, Virat should take open minded approach to the game and not got with a preconceived notion.
Pre-plan may affect India’s chance in Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli should go according to the conditions of the pitches. He is yet to see the Galle pitch where the first match will be played.
So, wise decision is needed, and Virat Kohli is going to lead India as a full fledged captain will have to endure severe criticism if positive result don’t come from Sri Lanka series.
Virat Kohli should adopt a experimental approach in the three day warm up match against Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman XI at Premadasa Stadium on August 6 before the Galle Test on August 12.
The five bowler formula is good, but the question is will Virat go with either three pacer and two spinner or four pacer one spinner. As of now it seems Virat will play with two spinners. Subsequently, another question which is needed to be amswered, will Virat play with two offspinner or he will include Amit Mishra to fill the leg spinnner vcancy?
It was observed that Sri Lanka was cluless to the legspin of Pakistan’s Yasir Shah , who palyed Pivotal role in Pakistan’s Test series victory over Sri Lanka for the first time since 2006.
Virat have to make a tough decision before the first Test, in the warm up match he can continue with Ashwin, Harbhajan and Amit Mishra and three fast bowlers that will include Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav.
Caption: Virat Kohli (L) and Rohit Sharma (R) at the end of the match during day five of the 2nd Test match between New Zealand and India on February 18, 2014 in Wellington
The performance of Amit Mishra will be significant, especially, if he does well in the match, then he will have a food chance to replace Harbhajan in the first Test. But, since Harbhajan has already justified his comeback in the team, and with outstanding performance in Zimbabwe, the turbanator is likely to make the playing eleven as second spinner while Mishra will have outside chance in the second Test.
Talking about the batting depertment, which is as complicated as bowling depertment. Two things should be addressed, will Virat drop a batsman and play Ashwin as allrounder? There is no chance this happens, as the batting line up is settled with Shikhar Dhawan who will open the innings, captain himself will come at no.4, Ajinkya Rahane will bat at no.5. However, no. 3 and second opener (becuase Vijay is apparently injured, as per the reports) spot is under contetion. With Rohit in the squad, and Virat deciding to play him at no. 3 , the another big question araises here, who will then replace injured Vijay? In case Vijay is not fit for the first Test , will India chose CheteswarPujara as an expreinced player for the second opener slot, or ask KL Rahul as he is the specialist opener India have right now after Vijay and Dhawan. The no. 6 will be wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who has no competitor in the squad.
If India play with 7 batsmen and four bowlers to strengthen the batting-lineup in order to out-play the Sri Lankan spin then the tussle of Pujara and Rahul will not be growing much as both of them will feature in the team. Meanwhile, bowlers selection will be difficult for both Virat and team management, Ashwin and Harbhajan will make the team while among the bowlers Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma will have more chance than Bhuvneshwar and Varun Aaron.
In this combination Dhawan, KL Rahul, Pujara,Virat Kohli and Saha will play the role of specialist batsman while Ashwin with 36 average will play the role of specialist all-rounder. This combination will be more suitable if the team management finds the pitch which will assist seam and spinn then Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav can continue with Ashwin, Harbhajan and Amit.
Virat Kohli who will stick with five bowlers formula, is likely to play with six batsmen and five bowlers forumula in the first official Test at Galle. The second Test at P Sara Oval, Colombo will required necessery changes if India failed to take lead in the series.