Virat Kohli’s captaincy of the Indian cricket team had a peculiar pattern. He did not play the same XI for 37 Tests ever since he took over the captaincy full-time in 2015. His horses-for-courses approach meant picking players according to the conditions. Kohli got some decisions correct but on overseas conditions, most notably in England, he made some errors while reading the conditions and picking the team. In Lord’s, on a green deck, he played Kuldeep Yadav and paid the price. On a wearing wicket in Southampton, he picked a half-fit Ravichandran Ashwin who struggled when Ravindra Jadeja could have had a better impact.
Ahead of the tour to Australia, former India player Maninder Singh has urged Kohli’s team to read the conditions correctly and play the right team composition if they have to achieve success. “India have a luxury this time in the bowling but they must utilise this well. They should not repeat the mistake in England where they read the pitches wrongly and they did not get the team composition correct. In the England series, they played with either four or five fast bowlers which I thought was not the ideal combination. According to me, with the hot summer in England at that time, India should have played three pace bowlers and two spinners,” Maninder said in a chat with News Nation.
India’s Test bowling line-up is powerful, with both pace and spin covered. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ashwin, Kuldeep and Jadeja have all had an impact but Maninder once again reiterated that India must read the conditions well. “The problem of plenty in the bowling is a welcome sign. India should not repeat the mistake of under-utilising a player like they did in England. They did play four pacers in a Test and Hardik Pandya picked up five wickets in the first innings. In the second innings, he did not get the ball until the 80th over. It is a waste and that cost us,”Maninder said.
‘Make correct decisions’
With India arriving in Australia on Saturday and their first match immediately on Wednesday, the team has little time to adjust to the conditions. India are playing three Twenty20 Internationals and a warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI before the start of the first Test in Adelaide on December 6. Maninder said in this era, there is no time for warm-ups and players are expected to adjust to the conditions immediately and they can only do that by backing their skills. In addition to that, the former India player stressed on one important thing for success Down Under.
“Correct decision making is crucial. It is better to play six batsmen (including the keeper) and five bowlers if you have to win Tests in Australia. Even in England, I was confident that if the team balance was right and if they read the pitch conditions well, our bowlers would have delivered a series win for us. Shastri said the team has learned from the mistakes in the past and if they overcome this, India have the edge over Australia in all three formats,” Maninder said.