India face several selection dilemmas on the eve of the first Test against Australia in Nagpur, including choosing between Suryakumar Yadav and Shubman Gill for Shreyas Iyer's spot.
Nagpur: India skipper Rohit Sharma chose to keep suspense over his preferred batting and bowling line-ups in the opening Test against Australia, saying they will go into the high-profile series with “horses for courses” approach.
Rohit Sharma was asked specifically about his choice between Suryakumar Yadav and Shubhman Gill as there are enough indications that team management won’t drop an out-of-form vice-captain KL Rahul.
“Tomorrow 9 o’ clock at toss,” Rohit answered with a wry smile, knowing the line of questioning well.
Gill’s sparkling form is important and so is Surya’s incredible ability to tame a raging bull like Nathan Lyon and the Indian captain made it clear that as much emphasis there will be on consistent form, the skills suitable for a particular surface will determine the playing eleven.
“It’s going to be a tough one. We know lot of guys are in good form, that’s a good sign for the team,” Rohit said.
“You have selection issues and it says a lot about the guys performing. That’s quite crucial from team’s perspective, what we have to do is go to each venue, see the pitch and pick the best eleven. We have been doing that in past and we will be doing that going forward,” the skipper made it clear.
“Message to the boys is very clear. We are ready to play horses for courses. Whichever pitch, whoever we need, we have to bring them in. As simple as that. That is something we have spoken to the guys. We will have to assess conditions and see who are the right guys, so we are quite open with all options,” he was more intent on hammering home the point.
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He smartly parried the query when asked who between Suryakumar and Gill is more suitable for the Jamtha track?
“They bring different things to the table for us. Gill we all know has been in supreme form in last three to four months. Lot of big hundreds as well. Surya has shown in T20s what he is capable of and what sort of game he can bring to Test cricket as well.
“Both are quality options for us and we haven’t yet decided who will play among the two guys, keep in mind all aspects of the game. I will not give you guys anything today,” the smile was back, gauging the desperation of the media contingent.
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The skipper said that he is ready to walk the talk.
“When I say something, I mean it. You have to go by what is right for that particular Test match. You need to pick that particular guy. Things keep changing every session, every day in a Test match.”
He also didn’t spell out if he would prefer KS Bharath over Ishan Kishan.
“You need to take the brave call. Rishabh was important how he batted for us. We have guys who can do that job in the middle-order. You need orthodox cricket to be played as well, we have solid top order and all batters finding ways to score and hopefully, tomorrow we start the game , we can achieve those things.”
A section of Australian media, that works as an extension of its national team has already alleged that the Jamtha track is “doctored” even before a ball is bowled.
“I just feel, focus is on playing the game, last series we played here, lot was spoken about pitches and all 22 are quality cricketers and not bothered about how much it is turning, how much it is seaming and all that.”
Axar vs Kuldeep or Axar and Kuldeep?
There is a school of thought that both Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel should play alongside Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Again Rohit praised all four while presenting a dead bat.
“All four are quality and Jadeja and Ashwin have played a lot together. Speaking of Axar and Kuldeep, I think whenever they have gotten an opportunity, they have put batters under pressure.
“The last series we played against England, Axar got a lot of wickets (27 wickets), and Kuldeep when he played against Bangladesh, he got five wickets there.
“To have all 4 available is a great sign and three of them are quality all-rounders, Kuldeep also scored crucial runs for us in Bangladesh, those who can do multiple things for us gives us great options and gives us depth. So all four available is a positive sign.”
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Everyone has own methods of tackling spinners
Just like there are hundreds of ways to skin a cat, the Indian captain believes that there is no one particular way of playing spinners of the calibre of Nathan Lyon.
“When the ball turns a lot, your methods, preparations and ways to score runs is different. It is important to have counter-attacking method as well. Spinners are quite smart and opposition captain spread the field, not possible to get boundaries, so one needs to sweep, reverse sweep, try and using feet.
“Most of us have grown up playing on pitches like these. Some go straight over bowlers’ head some go for reverse sweep. We told boys, find your own ways of scoring runs. Australia is a different ball game. They have couple of quality spinners who can trouble us.”
With Rohit around, there would always be a chance of a hearty laugh. As he was about to leave, he came and to the press box and from there saw a few members of the Aussie contingent trying to size up the 22-yard strip.
“Itna pitch mat dekho yaar. Cricket khelo (Don’t focus on the pitch so much, play cricket),” he said and left.
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