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Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma make Indian cricket team depth enviable

Murali Vijay, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma made great contributions in India’s innings and 239 runs win over Sri Lanka in second Test. All three have made sporadic appearance for Indian Test cricket team in recent past

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Nov 28, 2017 18:05 IST
India vs Sri Lanka,Indian cricket team,Sri Lanka cricket team
Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay (centre and right) performed well during the India vs Sri Lanka Test cricket series. (PTI)

For the second Test starting in Nagpur, India had lost three of their main performers, who had all done brilliantly in the series opener against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens.

India’s pace spearhead, Mohammed Shami had claimed four wickets, swing sensation Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a match-haul of eight wickets and opener Shikhar Dhawan had blasted 94 in the second innings.

READ | Ravichandran Ashwin hopes to reach 600 wickets after record show vs Sri Lanka

Any team would be rattled; they are big holes to fill. But what does India do? In comes Murali Vijay for Dhawan and smashes a hundred, Ishant Sharma fills in for Bhuvneshwar and outshines all other bowlers, and Rohit Sharma creams a free-flowing hundred.

India has the kind of depth teams dream of, and the second Test provided proof. This is India’s main strength at the moment.

Ishant and Vijay were like-for-like replacements while Rohit got a chance because India chose to go for a six-four (batsman-bowler) combination.

READ | Virat Kohli rested for Sri Lanka ODIs, Rohit Sharma to lead India for 1st time

JOSTLING FOR SPOTS

The Mumbai batsman is likely to go back to spending time on the bench, and will get his next chance when India decide to add an extra batsman. However, the impressive performances of Ishant and Vijay have increased the competition for places in the playing XI – a welcome headache for the team management.

Captain Virat Kohli will have a tough choice to make between picking Dhawan and Vijay for the third Test starting in New Delhi on Saturday. Dhawan can change the game within a session and was India’s highest run-getter in the series in Sri Lanka as well. But Vijay was the first-choice opener and the left-handed batsman only got a chance only because Vijay got injured ahead of the away Sri Lanka series. The call has to also be based on who the team management plans to open with in the upcoming South Africa series.

READ | Ishant Sharma’s resurgence welcome news for Indian cricket team’s pace stocks

ISHANT’S FORM

Though Ashwin bagged an eight-wicket haul, the talking point of the game among bowlers was Ishant’s impressive performance. The lanky pacer was in the kind of rhythm which had helped him make a name when he first burst on to the scene. To add to his three-wicket haul in the first innings, he bowled two dream deliveries in the second essay for a match haul of five.

It gives Kohli a ready-made back up for the fragile Shami. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar swinging the ball like a sultan, Umesh Yadav will be under pressure to keep his place in the playing eleven for the South Africa series.

India were already in a strong position when Rohit Sharma came out to bat, but it was an important hundred for the Mumbai batsman; not just from a personal point of view, but it fits into the team’s preparations for South Africa, where India are likely to feel the need to bolster the batting.

BATTLE-READY

It is credit to the team management for how they have kept their troops battle-ready. Rohit was playing his first Test since October 2016, Ishant and Vijay their first since March.

Talking about the mindset needed to wait for a chance after a long time, Rohit explained: “The most important thing is when you get an opportunity you have to be more than ready, not just ready to play the game (but) deliver the goods that your coach, captain and team expect from you.

“When I was in Sri Lanka or before that, you never know you are going to be guaranteed a place in the 11. You got to try and figure out the way when you are in the middle, how you are going to be destructive and make an impact on that particular game. So, my focus was particularly on those aspects.

“We have got some good set of coaches to go through all that and it really depends on the captain and coach, what combination they want and what they are comfortable with. And every member of the side completely understands that and back them 100 per cent to make the right decision.”

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 17:27 IST