Focus on Bhuvneshwar as camp begins today
As India ready for the Test series against Australia starting on February 22, the big challenge for under-fire coach, Duncan Fletcher, will be to quash any impression the side is under-cooked. N Ananthanarayanan reports.cricket Updated: Feb 16, 2013 11:33 IST
For a team in transition looking to plug the holes that have developed over the last two years, planning is absolutely crucial.
As India ready for the Test series against Australia starting on February 22, the big challenge for under-fire coach, Duncan Fletcher, will be to quash any impression the side is under-cooked.
The 15-member squad begins a three-day camp at the National Cricket Academy on Saturday morning with many players needing to get into rhythm. Virender Sehwag missed last week's Irani Cup due to stomach upset.
Cheteshwar Pujara, the man who was in sublime form but did not play a game in the ODI series against England, will have to shake off any rust caused by the long break as well as the lingering effects of the festivities, having got married on Wednesday.
For the pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda, it will be different. With Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav injured, the spotlight is away from the pacers, with two of them yet to play Tests.
Ishant bowled lively spells in the one-day series against England as he continued to work on his game following his ankle surgery last year. Many expect UP seamer Bhuvneshwar to partner him ahead of Dinda because of his ability to swing the ball.
The 23-year-old was impressive in the limited-over series against Pakistan and England, although it remains to be seen whether India play three spinners as many batsmen in the transitional Australia side are not used to slow pitches.
Former India pacer Venkatesh Prasad, the Uttar Pradesh coach, is confident Bhuvneshwar will pass the test if he is picked.
"I feel we should play two pacers and two spinners because reverse swing will come into play," he told the Hindustan Times.
"Bhuvneshwar has done well in the longer format for UP. He proved himself in the ODIs. How he uses the new and old ball and handles reverse swing will be his challenge. His biggest strength is consistency, bowling line and length. The Aussies have not seen him, which is an advantage.
And he has a fantastic seam position with his wrist right behind the ball."
Bhuvneshwar's ODI success has been attributed to an extent to the shine lasting longer as two new balls are used. And skipper MS Dhoni mostly got his spell completed before the batting powerplay overs. But Prasad backed the athletic youngster.
"For UP, he is used to bowling long spells. When you play at the highest level, it is not just about bowling 140. You got to be consistent and bowl in the right areas."
For Sehwag, success in this series could be crucial to decide his future. His reflexes are on the wane but playing first in Chennai should motivate him even more. He averages over 100 in five Tests at Chepauk, where he also scored his Indian record 319 against South Africa in 2008.