Indian cricket is experiencing happy times in Tests under Virat Kohli. Ever since he took over as full-time captain, he has not lost a single series and neither has he lost a single Test at home. In the current five-match series against England, India have taken a 2-0 lead, thanks to a thumping eight-wicket win in Mohali on Tuesday.
It was in the Mohali Test that Parthiv Patel stamped his credentials as a keeper-batsman. Making a comeback into the Test team after a gap of eight years, Parthiv Patel showed good maturity and attacking instinct as he scored 42 and 67 not out opening the batting.
- Parthiv Patel scored 42 and 67 not out in Mohali.
- Gautam Gambhir was used as opener in Rajkot but scored only 29 and 0.
- Regular wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha is expected to be fit for the next Test in Mumbai
Parthiv Patel’s solid performance with the bat at the top has thrown up an interesting situation for Virat Kohli heading into the Mumbai Test that begins on December 8.
Big competition for the opening slot
Although India are leading the series 2-0 against England, the scoreline does not reflect the problems with the Indian batting. The top order has been inconsistent in the three Tests so far while the lower order has contributed a lot more. The main problems for the Indian batting begin right at the top.
Gautam Gambhir was used as an opener in Rajkot but contributed just 29 and 0. Gambhir was dropped and Lokesh Rahul was drafted in as opener in Vizag but he too failed when he scored 0 and 10.
To compound Rahul’s woes, he suffered an injury and was ruled out for the Mohali Test, which prompted questions on Team India’s injury management. Patel was included in the Mohali Test where he played very well but surprisingly, Murali Vijay failed for 12 and 0.
The selectors will also be keeping a close watch in the ongoing Ranji Trophy match between Vidarbha and Delhi, in which Shikhar Dhawan is playing.
Dhawan, who has not been part of the Indian team since the New Zealand Test in Kolkata, played in two Ranji games for Delhi. In the first match against Rajasthan in Wayanad, he made 38 and 49 but he did not help his cause in the first innings against Vidarbha by getting out for six.
With Rahul expected to be fit for the Mumbai Test and with Wriddhiman Saha expected to return after injury, will Patel be axed?
Rahul, Saha return adds to conundrum
With Saha expected to be fit after missing the Mohali Test and with Rahul also expected to regain fitness, Kohli is spoiled for chances. Dropping Patel after a good show with the bat and with the gloves in the third Test would be unfair. On the other hand, will the BCCI rush Rahul back after he sustained the forearm injury in Vizag?
The ideal solution for Kohli would be to retain Patel in the Mumbai Test and play him as a batsman. Saha can slot back in the keeper’s role while Rahul should be rested to allow more time for recovery as India play a further seven Tests in the coming months.
With Dhawan trying to get back in form in domestic cricket, the sensible thing would be for Patel to continue opening the batting with Vijay.
Patel’s performance has given Kohli a problem of plenty, but it is heartening for Indian cricket that the bench strength is strong as Kohli aims to sustain dominance.