Sri Lanka were the only team that could have ruined India’s chances of qualifying and they almost did. The last ball of New Zealand’s Test victory against Sri Lanka was the closest one could have imagined.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson scrambled his way to the final lap and managed to reach the crease by the closest edge. This is the best test of cricket and it will keep thriving in the future.
India, heavily criticized for tampering with wickets at home, were shy in the nick of time. India sealed their place in the World Test final with a 2-1 lead and a win in Ahmedabad, a batsman’s paradise here. Perhaps the presence of leaders from both countries played a role in that. After all, one doesn’t want to see hitting become an art of juggling instead of a series of sweet and serene stroke plays.
One expects a turning track, one expects an outcome. The critical voice must have been under the curator’s skin, producing a typically unresponsive wicket to avoid any further embarrassment. Both Australian and Indian batsmen took full advantage of it. For India, young Shub Manjill has established himself as a fine batsman who will shake up the cricketing world in the near future.
The cherry on top of the cake was the century that eluded Indian star batsman Virat Kohli, finally revived. Virat has been a mainstay of Indian cricket and getting him back on track mentally to become a champion bodes well for India.
Australia showed us why they are such a tough side in all situations. They were humiliated and beaten in their first two Test matches, after which they advanced with flying colors. As confident as Australia may feel, the reality is that they have lost their last 4 Test series home and away to India. That in itself shows how India have the edge and are favorites to win cricket’s highest honor, the World Test Championship.
The weather in London in early June is always tricky. With snow in England in March, the cricket season is expected to start wet and cold in June. In the past years, India has always been asked to tour the UK, and the result is that India’s proud spinner has become ineffective.
The cold and wet Duke ball was difficult to grip and both finger and wrist spinners were affected. The area of concern for India is not the batsmen for this match, but the bowlers in the eleven. The question that arises is whether India should go after the recent successful performers, or go for a dedicated eleven based on the conditions they will encounter.
England’s wickets in June are more for swing bowlers, so India will need 4 seamers. Unfortunately, none of the front-line fast bowlers were good batsmen, and Shardul Thakur, the only one who showed some potential, did not instill any confidence.
So people were surprised by Hardik Pandya’s recent statement that he doesn’t want to replace or be part of the World Test Championship. His reasoning was the least convincing, as he felt he wasn’t working hard enough to play more minutes and thus wasn’t suitable to replace any existing Test players.
Hardik may feel his potential is in white-ball cricket, however, he is India’s only fast bowling all-rounder. The Indian selectors need to stress the importance of his presence and, if need be, tell Hardik to adapt himself physically and mentally to the task.
Srikar Bharat or KL Rahul as goalkeeper might be another debatable issue. Rahul deserves the nod especially for his batting. He’s scored hundreds at the oval in the past and is a player who can stabilize a team if top hitters fail. Bharat was a solid choice on the cornering Indian track, however, in England the keeper took a step back as conditions favored fast bowling over spin.
Australia, on the other hand, have been preparing for the Ashes series in England later this season. They have a pace attack and players more used to English conditions.
Due to lack of time, India failed to prepare for the single Test match final when they played against New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship. India needs to make sure they don’t repeat their mistakes. This time they need every one of their Test players to be ready and focused.
IPL is a T20 circus, which is commercially good for Indian cricket, however, it is 3 years of hard work that finally gives India another chance to win the most prestigious trophy in cricket and crown the world Test champion.
This will be the prize that Indian cricket and cricket lovers will applaud, especially after almost a decade swallowed by the void.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Indian cricketer. Opinions expressed are personal)
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