Cricket world: India’s quandary; Bumrah in good form but who will fill Virat’s shoes?

There are clear cut indications now that India’s star batter Virat Kohli will not take part in any of the Tests of the ongoing series of matches against England. South Africa’s former player A.B. de Villiers who is a close friend of Virat Kohli unwittingly let the cat out of the bag when he revealed that Virat and his wife Anushka are expecting their second child so Virat would like to spend more time on family matters.

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Virat’s decision has not gone down well with the fans. Many have criticised him on social media and said that it is not a big enough reason for him to miss all the Tests against a strong team like England. But one must remember that Virat himself has not confirmed whether this is the reason or not. There may be other and more serious reasons. Ultimately it all depends upon the player and no one can force him to take part if he wants to stay away.

But the good news on the batting front has come from the youngsters Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill who have hit a purple patch. But Shreyas Iyer is struggling. India cannot count on only two batsmen performing well every time. There has to be all round depth and strength.

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Collective effort needed

Former fast bowler Zaheer Khan pointed out that Rohit Sharma had made all the right moves as captain but the batting should be on firmer ground. At present it looks shaky and a collapse could spell doom at any time. The only way to overcome this shortcoming is with collective effort.

The Little Master Sunil Gavaskar too was apprehensive about India’s batting strength. He was full of praise for Jaiswal’s effort but was critical of the way in which other batters did their task. He was of the opinion that many of the batters gave away their wickets.

Iyer’s inconsistency is baffling

But even to the layman, the inconsistent performance of Shreyas Iyer has been baffling. When he is in form this batter’s strokes are scintillating. But on other days he seems pedestrian and struggles to put runs on the board. The reason for his swinging from sublime to shocking cannot be easily explained.

His form in red ball cricket has been a cause of worry for the Indian team. He scored only 41 runs from four matches in South Africa and so far against England he has played in two Tests and scored 104 runs at an average of 26. It could be an issue of confidence and mental approach rather than physical factors such as technique and timing.

In the bowling department, India’s sun is shining brightly. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah have been bowling at their best. The latter has become the first Indian fast bowler to top the ICC Test rankings after a superb display against England in the second Test match at Vizag.

Bumrah in great form

Bumrah’s spell in the first innings was a treat to watch. Right now he seems to be the best fast bowler in the world in all formats of the game. In the Hyderabad Test match when he dismissed Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Joe Root, he was bowling as well as any of the great fast bowlers who have played in Hyderabad.

But it is learnt that Bumrah was hoping to be given some rest in between these matches. However with India’s position not yet on solid ground, it remains to be seen whether Bumrah will get his rest.

Harsha Bhogle wrote on X (Twitter): “If India have to rest Bumrah, they must do so on a track where the other bowlers become more potent. On a good batting surface, his skills are impossible to replicate. It might be a good idea to play him at Rajkot, rest him in Ranchi and have him ready for Dharamsala.”

Need for careful planning

But one thing is clear at this stage. India’s selectors and team management will have to do some quick thinking and come up with the right answers in order to overcome England and win this series. A wrong combination at this stage could be disastrous so the think tank has to make plans and decisions with great care in the next few days.

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