The Indian Test team to tour Australia was selected a few days back. The selectors have been praised for the consistency shown in trying to build a team for the future. The feeling around the Indian camp, one feels, after the victories against Sri Lanka, would be good. The selectors have chosen a big team keeping in mind that four Tests would be played on the tour along with a number of side matches and plenty of travelling across the country. So, let’s come and take a look at the role that every member of the touring party will be expected to play:
MS Dhoni: This would be a crucial tour for him. In his absence Kohli has come in and already there are talks that the Delhi lad should be made the captain as soon as possible. He will be unable to play the first Test owing to injury but after that he would be expected to lead from the front and at least make sure he exits the captaincy stage gracefully.
Ravichandran Ashwin: It is unlikely to see him being preferred over Jadeja but whenever he plays it will be as a wicket-taker. He will also be asked to score some runs down the order to further his claim.
Ravindra Jadeja: He will be the first choice spinner and if India goes in with four fast bowlers he could be asked to play as the number 6 batsman where he will need to use his batting skills more than his bowling. As a spinner he will mostly play a holding role.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Given the conditions, there is a good chance that he may not play. However, he swings the ball both ways, is accurate and a whole-hearted trier on the field and with the bat can be depended for a few runs down the order. These qualities will stand him in good stead during this tour.
Ajinkya Rahane: He will most likely play at no. 5 and will be expected to play a crucial role with his cool head, good technique and capability to bat long. He will also play a crucial role in the field both in the close in cordon as well as in the outer circle. What will further work in his favour is that he can open the innings in Tests but that could be a risky proposition considering he is a middle order batsman in first class cricket.
Suresh Raina: He has improved his technique a lot and is obviously one of the better fielders in the team. He will most likely clash with Rohit Sharma for the number 6 spot but perhaps his ability to bowl a few overs will be helpful.
Ishant Sharma: With his ability to stick to a good line and length and extract bounce he will be a handful in the Tests. Having played in Australia before, he will be expected to lead the attack as well.
Rohit Sharma: He is a pleasing stroke-maker and has done relatively well in Tests. However, he is a valuable commodity in the ODIs. He was injured during the Test series in England and has not played much first class cricket after that. It will be unwise if the team management decides to play him in the Tests straightaway.
Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron: The pace twins will play a major role if they are selected with their ability to hit the deck really hard, get good bounce and swing. If the Indian team can somehow play these two at the same time they could pose a credible threat to Australia in their own conditions and even score a win or two.
Shikhar Dhawan: He will be expected to play a good start to the team, spend some time at the crease and make things easier for the batsmen to follow. He has not been in excellent form of late, so it may not be wise for it to be expected that he will be able to score big runs.
Virat Kohli: He will lead the team in the first Test, is easily the most influential batsman in the team. He has led the team aggressively in the one-dayers against Sri Lanka. It remains to be seen if he can repeat the dosage in Australia as well.
Mohammed Shami: With his ability to swing and seam the ball both ways and that too at good pace, Shami will be expected to play a major role together with Ishant. He will most definitely open the bowling and will look to pick up wickets.
Cheteshwar Pujara: The man to have taken the place of Rahul Dravid in the Indian Test team will be supposed to play a similar role – holding up one end while the stroke-players in the other end continue to prosper. He is a good fielder in the silly point and short leg positions and could play an important role in that regard.
Lokesh Rahul: He has been selected as a reserve opener and will most likely not get a look in unless there is an exceptional circumstance like injury or sudden loss of form of one of the two main openers.
Wriddhiman Saha: He will play the first Test because Dhoni won’t be playing. He is regarded as the best keeper in the country, and has improved vastly with the bat. He will need to bring those qualities to the fore in this Test so that his name remains firmly entrenched in the minds of selectors.
Karn Sharma: He has been chosen as a spin bowling cover and his selection over tried, tested and proven performers like Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla is surprising. However, this tour will mostly be one where he learns a lot and thus is ready when he is asked to represent India in a Test.
Murali Vijay: He will be asked to play the sedate role as an opener, soaking up the pressure and turning the strike over to Dhawan as and when he is doing well. However, he will need to score at least a century to be able to stave off the threat from emerging openers such as Rahul and Jiwanjot Singh.
Naman Ojha: He has been chosen as a wicket keeping cover for Saha who had been injured before the Sri Lanka ODIs and will most probably return to India after the first Test once MSD recovers.
One feels that the team management could have chosen Pankaj Singh and Ishwar Pandey as additional quick bowling cover keeping in mind the long tour and the nature of surfaces on offer. In any case, the Australian board is not going to offer its best fast bowlers in the practice games and this is where the two quick bowlers could have made some difference.