India vs West Indies: From Prithvi Shaw's sensational start to Rishabh Pant's rapid rise, hosts' gains from Test series

The success of youngsters, including Kuldeep Yadav and rediscovery of form for Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane and others have ensured that India had a lot of positives to take away from the Windies series.

Vedam Jaishankar, October 15, 2018

One reason why Umesh Yadav is only the third Indian fast bowler in 85 years to get 10 wickets in a Test on Indian soil is simply because it is excruciatingly difficult for a fast bowler to be a high-performing cricketer on Indian pitches.

Easier would be to score a double century, which probably explains why there are more than a dozen Indians, who have registered the milestone at home. In fact even bowlers have notched up Test centuries!

It is for these reasons that Yadav's 10-wicket haul in the second Test of the two-Test series against Windies at Hyderabad ought to be celebrated.

Team India registered a 2-0 win over Windies in the two-match series. AFP

Team India registered a 2-0 win over Windies in the two-match series. AFP

There was nothing on offer from the pitch. Rather, it was the ability to use the new ball well, consistently generate pace and later reverse swing which made him a class apart. Strangely he chose to criticise the ball brand after first day's play when he had grabbed three wickets. Either his criticism was premature and unfounded or he had miraculously discovered positive features in the brand of ball that has been
around for decades now.

Yadav's sustained pace, instinctive nous to prise out tailenders and bowl excellent lines with new and old ball are invaluable assets. Additionally, he is probably the best fielder among Indian fast bowlers, a quality that would come in very handy on big Australian outfields.

Coach Ravi Shastri acknowledged Yadav's excellent showing even while admitting that it had given the team management a headache over selection of playing XI for the next Test, in Australia. "But it is a pleasant headache to have," he added.

The unpleasant headache was after the series in England, where their four-member pace attack, which included a rookie in Tom Curran, decimated Indian opening combinations. In Test after Test they made Murali Vijay, Sikhar Dhawan and later KL Rahul look inadequate before Rahul salvaged some pride by scoring a century in the final Test.

Until then India's openers looked hapless and gutted. Even otherwise the opening pair looked so inadequate that some drastic action needed to be taken.

That came about by inducting young Prithvi Shaw into the playing eleven and Mayank Agarwal into the squad. Shaw is very young and inexperienced even in first class cricket. But what he had going for him was a positive approach and unmatched confidence in his strokeplay.

Skipper Virat Kohli sung his praises at the end of the series saying that he was "fearless without being reckless".

"I don't think many of us at 18-19 years of age were even 10 percent of what he is now," he gushed.

Shaw brought hope and positivity to the start of the innings. His driving on the up was brilliant, considering that pitches in India are slow, two-bounce and generally not conducive to that kind of strokeplay.

In fact his batting could flower on Australian pitches, where the Kookaburra ball does not seam or swing and the bounce is true. If Kohli's observation that Shaw "hardly nicks the ball" comes true, Shaw could be a treat to watch Down Under.

If Shaw was the biggest gain of the Windies series, Rishab Pant was not far behind. His challenges in wicket-keeping will continue. However, it must be pointed out that he has already survived two of the toughest series - in England, where the ball swings prodigiously and in India, where keeping to spinners can be a nightmare.

Keeping in Australia would be a lot easier. The even bounce, limited spin, seam and swing could help him settle quickly.

Pant was given a break when Dinesh Karthik flopped in England and the youngster has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He has made up for his tardy wicket-keeping with excellent batting.

His hundred at The Oval, followed by pulverising knocks of 90s against the Windies have helped him consolidate his position in the team. The success in the series would surely have put him in the right frame of mind for Australia.

The selectors too must be complimented for discarding failed cricketers. They opted for young blood as the series against a weak Windies at home provided the best opportunity to groom and boost the confidence of newcomers.

Shaw and Pant made maximum use of the chances. It was a pity that Agarwal too could not be eased into the tough world of Test cricket. Nevertheless the successful rejig of opening combination, consolidation of wicketkeeper-batsman and the rediscovery of a fast bowler must be seen as terrific positives from the two-match Test series.

The success of youngsters, including Kuldeep Yadav and rediscovery of form for Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane and others have ensured that Virat Kohli's side had a lot of positives to take away from the Windies series. This would stand them in good stead for the tougher battles ahead.

Updated Date: Oct 15, 2018

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