As India is on the brink of a remarkable victory at Trent Bridge that can set them well on course in their journey of the second edition of the World Test Championship, a few questions will need answering.
Despite India’s rollicking display with the cherry in the hand, thanks to Jasprit Bumrah, the man who chronicled figures of 4-fer in the first innings and ripped through the English batting line-up in the second with an incredible fiver.
However, the major point of concern has never been India’s bowling because almost on every occasion someone or the other has managed to step up to the task. May it be Bumrah or Shami, Ashwin or Ishant, India’s bowling has been compact and decent. India’s vulnerability, however, has been their batting. Their two best batsmen in the recent times of the longest format of the sport have been extremely sloppy and have scored on rare occasions instead of being the pillars of reliability.
Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s best Test batsman in the current roster has struggled vehemently to get a few consistent runs for his team. He has blown hot and cold in recent times and that has already made the Indian frowns a lot more intensified.
We will be taking a look at five batsmen who can replace the likes of Pujara in case if he continues with the dearth of runs in the near offing.
#1 KL Rahul
The man came back from appendicitis surgery and started soaring straight away in the opening Test of the series. With Gill and Mayank Agarwal injured, Rahul was asked to open the innings. He worked wonders for India as he whacked a brilliant 84 in the first innings while playing an effusive 26 in the second before Stuart Broad conjured an absolute peach to force him to hole out to Jos Buttler.
Ideally, in Test cricket, he is a middle-order batsman and has been asked to open the innings in the absence of Shubman Gill. When Gill returns, Rahul will most likely be coming out at number three or four. This makes him a perfect substitute for the underperforming Pujara who hasn’t been extraordinary in recent times. Though his Test figures aren’t as impressive as his ODI and T20 numbers, he has still managed to star in 38 Test matches and garner 2006 runs at a decent average of 34.
#2 Suryakumar Yadav
The rising sensation from Mumbai Indians has been an absolute shipwrecker in the shorter format of the game. More than his aggression what really does define him is his extraordinary arsenal of strokes and the precision that he mixes his shots with.
Though Yadav is still to get a taste of the longer format of the game which needs much more resilience and patience than the shorter format of the games, he is someone who has adapted to circumstances resonantly. It is expected that he may very shortly be replacing the likes of Pujara in case if the latter fails to perform in a couple of matches in the near future.
#3 Shubman Gill
With all said and done, there is a high probability that Gill may be demoted down the order considering the limited success that the young guy has found in the last few matches. This will mean either the introduction of KL Rahul or Prithvi Shaw to the opening. In that case, Gill will be coming out either at number three or four.
Gill is a highly technical batsman and is an excellent player of short balls. Ideally, this means that the bowlers who want to use pace as their weapon gets nullified in front of a resilient Gill. Now comes another important facet that actually does prove that he can be a much better batsman in the middle and that is his herculean patience. He is never rusty and has absolutely zero rush to showcase his variegated arsenal. Hence, the amount of attention and focus that a batsman needs in that match-defining position in Test cricket, Gill possesses it.
#4 Shreyas Iyer
Iyer is another untested prodigy in the longest format of the game but he has proven his worth in the shorter versions. Like Gill, he is technically very solid and also an attacking batsman who can inflict severe damage if he gets going. However, if there has been one thing that will be an imperative factor in determining his Test spot that will be how significantly he can arrest his momentum in scoring fast and focus on scoring more.
A man who hasn’t played any Test cricket in the international arcade isn’t really completely alien to the format. He boasts of an incredible average of 52.18 in First-Class cricket and a decent 44.67 in List A cricket. This makes Iyer a potential pick to replace Pujara.
#5 Hanuma Vihari
Vihari hasn’t really got as many chances as he would have expected. Coming out to bat at number 7, his exposure with the willow in the hand is limited. Vihari isn’t an extraordinary player of strokes but he can defend for a while and carry on the resilience for a far longer period than coming out to bat at number 7.
He played out an exemplary knock alongside Ashwin that defied Australia’s might and they had to be assuaged with a draw from sheer chances of a victory.