Bat­ting strength in depth a good prob­lem for In­dia

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

MUMBAI: The emer­gence of young­sters Lokesh Rahul and Karun Nair will in­crease the pres­sure on In­dia’s es­tab­lished bats­men to be more con­sis­tent as the world’s top-ranked test side look to dom­i­nate next year. Un­der cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli, In­dia have been un­beaten in the last 18 tests, reg­is­ter­ing se­ries wins in Sri Lanka and West Indies, and thump­ing South Africa, New Zealand and Eng­land at home.

Half­way through a bumper home se­ries of 13 tests, with a lone match against Bangladesh and a four-game se­ries against Aus­tralia re­main­ing, Kohli’s grand dream of cre­at­ing one of cricket’s all-time best teams is tak­ing shape.

The 24-year-old Rahul ce­mented his po­si­tion as In­dia’s first-choice opener along­side Mu­rali Vi­jay with a 199 in Chen­nai, his fourth test hun­dred in 12 matches.

Doubts were raised af­ter scores of nought, 10 and 24 but the knock at the MA Chi­dambaram Sta­dium an­swered all his crit­ics and en­sured left-han­der Shikhar Dhawan will be In­dia’s re­serve opener when the hosts pick the squad for the next test. It will also be a pleas­ant headache for the team man­age­ment when reg­u­lar mid­dle-or­der bats­men Ajinkya Ra­hane and Ro­hit Sharma re­turn from in­jury for the matches against Bangladesh and Aus­tralia in Fe­bru­ary and March. Nair, 25, did not have a great start to his test ca­reer, scor­ing four and 13 in Mo­hali and Mumbai be­fore com­pil­ing a stun­ning un­beaten 303 in Chen­nai.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to find guys like that, which have such char­ac­ter when they are bat­ting and un­der­stand their game so well at such a young age,” Kohli told re­porters af­ter his side com­pleted a 4-0 drub­bing of Eng­land in Chen­nai.

“It’s im­por­tant to back guys like Karun. We’ve al­ways be­lieved. He was al­ways our num­ber one choice as a mid­dle-or­der back-up.” Ro­hit scored three half-cen­turies, two un­beaten, against New Zealand in the three tests be­fore his thigh in­jury while Ra­hane, In­dia’s vice-cap­tain, broke his fin­ger af­ter scor­ing 63 in five in­nings against Eng­land. Kohli has warned op­po­nents that this is only the be­gin­ning for his young side. “To be part of such a good year and such a good sea­son, es­pe­cially with the team in tran­si­tion, is some­thing we can be re­ally proud of,” Kohli said.

“But this is just the foun­da­tion that’s been laid for us to carry on for many years. It’s just the be­gin­ning.

“It’s noth­ing (com­pared to what) we want to achieve. It’s not even a tiny bit of that. We un­der­stand where we want to go, and hope­fully the guys can keep putting this kind of ef­fort and take the team where it be­longs.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.