The Indian team under Virat Kohli, and more specifically coach Anil Kumble, looks a secure unit willing to back its proven players in the face of challenges from rising talent. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha would vouch for that.
Both got injured during the England series and their replacements Karun Nair (for Rahane) and Parthiv Patel (for Saha) stepped up to the plate, dishing out solid performances.
Nair scored a triple hundred in the final Test in Chennai, becoming only the second Indian to do so, while Parthiv did well with the bat and gloves.
But neither will stay in the eleven once the established ones regained fitness and returned for the one-off Test against Bangladesh that begins here on Thursday.
Kohli made it clear when he said, “One game doesn’t overshadow two years of hard work from another player. You need to understand what Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane) has done for the team over the past two years. He averages almost fifty in this format and he is probably the most solid batsman in the Test team.”
It shows the backing the team management is giving its tried and tested players.
“Karun was stepping into his shoes and what he did was remarkable, but sealing his spot as far as the squad was concerned is what Karun did. But as I said, you can’t overlook two years of hard work from Ajinkya. He deserves to walk back into the team whenever he got fit.”
It also shows the team has learnt to accept realities like injuries, caused by a hectic schedule, or a freak accident like that of Rahane --- broke his finger while taking throw downs in the nets --- into account and create a pool of players.
“We are lucky we have the bench strength. We have a pool of 20-30 players from which we can choose,” added Kohli.
The big challenge, he says, is to ensure the team management backed players making a comeback and kept the youngsters in the squad and groomed them.
Kumble too had hinted at Rahane returning in place of Karun Nair, in keeping with India’s home strategy to play five batsmen so that five bowlers can be chosen.
While India had to call up Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav into the squad for the injured Amit Mishra --- leggie Yuzvendra Chahal is in the wings --- the rest of the bases seem covered. Kuldeep is the best wrist-spin option India have for Mishra.
Off-spinner Jayant Yadav did well in the opportunities he got against England, and so did the pace attack that has constantly changed but delivered as a unit.
On Tuesday, both Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya bowled long spells in the nets, working up pace and bounce. On Wednesday, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled on a pitch adjacent to the playing square.
Cheteshwar Pujara too had struggled with talk of him scoring too slow gaining currency, with Kohli indicating that the team management had a word with the batsman. But Kumble gave a vote of confidence by declaring that strike rate didn’t matter in Tests.
Currently, few countries in world cricket can boast of the riches India have, even if it is in home conditions.
“We feel like we can perform against any team in the world,” pointed out Kohli, before adding, “that doesn’t make us feel we are unbeatable.”