A ‘Test’ of new normal for Team India – SWOT Analysis
While the IPL points table was turning topsy turvy with the top 3 teams having lost over the action packed weekend and the bottom ranked teams such as KXIP, SRH and RR pulling out tremendous victories, the BCCI sneaked in quietly by announcing the squad list for the most anticipated tour of India to Australia. A long list of members were shortlisted across formats which meant that they had to pack up immediately after the IPL would get over without any respite. While all the Indian players played their first competitive cricket after six months in the Dream 11 IPL, a few players found their purple patch while a few others got sidelined due to injuries and workload management. With such a difficult combination of players, team India are all set to venture to the Oceanic nation to lock horns with the mighty Australians for 3 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 4 Tests. Primarily, this article would shed light on the red ball squad and perform SWOT analysis on all the players to provide an wholesome ideology and strategy for the upcoming mammoth mouth watering series.
The 18 member Test Squad was announced on 24th October 2020 which saw some regulars and important people missing out while a few other young guns earned their spot through consistent hard work in domestic circuits.
Majority of the squad members feature in the IPL 2020 and it would be expected for the players to leave together to ensure utmost safety is maintained within the bio secure bubble. The other prominent test players like Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari would be joining the squad soon with coach Ravi Shastri and undergo their quarantine in Dubai. The highly ambitious and talented squad led by Captain Virat Kohli has a lot of strengths and weaknesses to be assessed upon.
- Senior Players stick up : The senior players of the team are oozing confidence and emulating good form in the IPL and it would be much expected from them to emulate the same. Skipper Virat should lead from the front with the bat and best supports are expected from Pujara and Rahane to stand up to their reputation. On the other hand, the Kookaburra cherry would be fired from the canons of Bumrah and Shami who can not only swing the ball, but also swing the match in the team’s favor. The resurgence of Ashwin and resilience of Jadeja would be handy to cover up the spin options on the Australian soil.
- Fit and firing : Despite 6 months of inactivity, the players looked fit and are expected to carry the same momentum to the tour. The squad features many youngsters who would be ready to roll around the Australian bushes. The fielding and running between the wickets are expected to be in sublime form which could help the team pull back games in a session or two and produce tremendous results.
- No Sharmaji ka beta : The two most prolific Sharma’s in their respective departments are left behind due to injuries that they picked up in the IPL 2020. While Ishant Sharma’s loss would be a great misery to the fast bowling lineup, Rohit’s absence would leave the top order wide open. Ishant has emerged into flying ranks over the last 2 years in the Test cricket arena and the matchup between him and Smith would make the social media go crazy. Without Ishant, India would need to find Siraj or Saini to take up the responsibility and deliver with precision. Also onus would reside on Agarwal and Rahul to take up the responsibility of opening and stabilising the innings.
- Weak bench strength : Apart from the playing 11, the bench doesn’t look menacing which would be a matter of concern for team India. While Saha might be hoping to continue without any injury, Pant doesn’t look good in current scenario and might end up as a weak link in crucial situations. Similarly, the backup openers like Shaw and Gill have not had enough international experience before and could get shivers sent through spines to face the swinging red ball under overcast conditions from Starc and Cummins.
- No seaming all rounder option : With Jadeja presumably batting at 7, the Indian contingent might prefer for 4 seamers or at least 3 seamers in the worst case which would lead to a sudden death in the tail ending option. India’s tail had never managed to stay more than 10 overs in the last 3 years while contrarily they struggled to pick up the tailenders of their opponents. Without an all rounding option, a bowler like Jadeja or Ashwin would be relied upon to play cautious knocks in a 5th day scenario for a crunching draw.
- Siraj or Saini : Since the Australian conditions are known for seam and swing, it would be no wonder if India plays with 4 seamers. While Bumrah and Shami are the trusted duo to lead the attack, the experience of Umersh would seal a spot for him unless he doesn’t do anything out of place. The fourth spot is up for grabs between Siraj and Saini. The bowler would be expected to hit the deck hard and reverse the older balls. Both speed and consistency would prove to be the key in the 5 day battle.
- Shubhman Gill : Shubhman Gill had proved his mettle in the Ranji Trophy for Punjab accumulating tons of runs at the top of the order. A solid right handed batsman who would score meticulously might be handy to plug a hole anywhere in the squad. He can substitute for an opener or a misfiring Rahane / Vihari at number 5. Hopefully he makes use of the best opportunity available.
- Lack of long format game time : While a few members of the probable playing 11 have got a bit of game time in the IPL, others who haven’t featured lack match practice and might be rusty. The Australians on the other hand have their Sheffield tournament up and running which has provided them with ample red ball practice. Players like Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Labuschagne, Travis Head, Tim Paine, Matthew Wade, Nathon Lyon, Mitchell Starc and Michael Nesar have upped the preparation foreseeing the series.
- Running out of gas : The fast bowling line up looked extremely concerning and it would be nearly impossible for Shami and Bumrah to not lose gas by the fag end of the series. With the limited over games featuring first, any probable injury or niggle would force the backbone of the bowling lineup to be rattled. Fingers crossed and hope they remain in good shape.
- Rishabh Pant : Clock is fast ticking against Rishabh Pant as he lost his limited overs spot to KL Rahul and Sanju Samson. His test match performance would be a real test of mettle for him to claim his position back. Also ample amount of domestic practice would be recommended best for Pant to get his positive game back in shape. It would be really threatening and demoralising if the youngster’s career tapers away too quickly.