From the looks of it, there is much to rejoice for the Indians who were without captain Virat Kohli and batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara. But the fact that they were bowled out in less than 50 overs by a bowling attack that did not feature a single Aussie Test team regular is a matter of worry for Kohli and the think tank.
The visitors hold an 86-run lead at the end of the first day’s play in the pink-ball warm-up match between the touring Indians and Australia A. From the looks of it, there is much to rejoice for the Indians who were without captain Virat Kohli and batting mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara. But the fact that they were bowled out in less than 50 overs by a bowling attack that did not feature a single Aussie Test team regular is a matter of worry for Kohli and the think tank.
Here are the big positive and negative takeaways for India after the first day’s play:
- Young batsmen in form: The duo of Prithvi Shaw (40) and Shubman Gill (43) produced some breathtaking strokeplay as they put the Australia A attack to the axe early in the innings. Shaw hit 8 boundaries in his 29-ball knock while Gill added 6 boundaries and a six in his 58-ball stay in the middle.
With the pink ball expected do a bit, it is certain that India will go in with four pacers in the first Test. There will be a toss up between Jadeja and Ashwin for the spinner’s slot and the wicket-keeper will be the sixth member of the playing XI. Such is the make-up of the Indian squad that there is only one slot open among the top 5 batsmen for the first Test in Adelaide and that is of the second opener along side Mayank Agarwal. Shaw is an opener and looks like he will grab that position. But the youngster has failed to put a price tag on his wicket in the face of his free flowing batting style and that could be a worry for the team. If Gill performs in the second innings too, then Kohli and Shastri will be forced to consider handing the youngster a Test debut at the top of the order.
- Rahane’s struggle:Ajinkya Rahane’s form will be crucial for the Indian team as he will be leading the side after Kohli returns post the first Test match. A captain who is low on confidence due to lack of runs is the last thing a touring side needs in Australia’s unforgiving conditions.
He edged one to the keeper after scoring just 4 runs and the channel outside the off is where Hazlewood and Cummins are expected to grill him. Rahane failed to post a half century in the four innings in New Zealand earlier this year and he posted only two scores of fifty plus in the seven innings he played Down Under two years ago. For a batsman who was known for being India’s redeemer in foreign conditions, these are numbers that need to be changed promptly.
- Batting form of wicket-keepers: Wriddhiman Saha scored a 22-ball duck while Rishabh Pant scored 5 runs. KL Rahul isn’t and can’t be a wicket-keeping option in Test cricket, just yet. Hence, one between Saha and Pant will get the nod and from the looks of it, the Bengal keeper is expected to be behind the stumps in Adelaide. But his batting outside India has been suspect and there isn’t much to suggest that has changed. Even Pant hasn’t set the stage on fire with the bat off late. There is much to think about for the team management.
- Pacers in sublime form: Although bowling to the likes of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne will be a different kettle of fish but the Indian pacers were on the money as they skittled Australia A out for 108. Shami and Bumrah were lethal while Saini and Siraj provided very good support. They need to be consistent in their line and length to make the most of the helpful conditions.
But this performance willensure the Aussies will think twice before leaving too much grass on the pitch.
- Happy Bumrah: He is expected to be India’s biggest weapon in the Test matches and Jasprit Bumrah looks to be enjoying himself as he put in a rarest of rare all-round show. Bumrah, whose Test average is a dismal 2.9 with the bat remained unbeaten on 55 as he hit 2 sixes and 6 boundaries in a surprise knock. He came back to pick up 2 wickets as well. His performance is a huge positive for the touring party.