bowled 14 wicketless overs during the opening Test in Pune
What’s the story?
Former captain Mohammad Azharuddin has urged India to drop Ishant Sharma and Jayant Yadav for the second Test against Australia in Bengaluru. The 54-year old wanted triple centurion Karun Nair to bolster the batting lineup in place of Jayant whilst also insisting that Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s swing could be more suited to Indian pitches rather than Ishant’s hit-the-deck style of bowling.
Azharuddin said, “Any batting debacle leaves a team on the back foot. I am not saying series is lost but one needs to look at the kind of track that you want to play. I reckon Chinnaswamy won't have this kind of turn. So my gut feeling is that Jayant Yadav and Ishant Sharma may be dropped from the playing XI.
“Going by their batting performance, I expect them to play an extra batsman – that is Karun Nair. He should be replacing Jayant in all likelihood.”
The stylish Hyderabadi added, "Also on the tracks that we are playing, Ishant's back of the length stuff is not going to work. It is better that a swing bowler like Bhuvneshwar is brought into the team by Virat (Kohli)."
Eager to capitalise on Australis’s recent shortcomings against the turning ball, India welcomed them with a pitch which began to spin sharply from the opening session itself. However, the move backfired on the hosts as Steve O’Keefe’s straighter deliveries and Steven Smith’s remarkable second-innings century led the Aussies to a massive 333-run victory in Pune.
The heart of the matter
While Sunil Gavaskar termed the Pune defeat as one of India’s worst ever, Sourav Ganguly declared that the home team would now be scared of rolling out rank turners. A more batting-friendly pitch can be expected at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru for the second Test which begins on Saturday.
If they want to change the team combination, India have quite a few options in their 16-member squad. Aside from being handy with the bat in the lower-order, Bhuvneshwar‘s prowess with the new ball might see him return to the playing eleven.
The reserve spinner in the squad is chinaman exponent Kuldeep Yadav. One of the most promising bowlers in the domestic circuit, the 22-year old does not have any prior international experience.
However, the focus could be on the batting lineup which folded meekly for 105 and 107 in the first Test. Nair, who scored an unbeaten triple ton in his previous appearance, should strengthen the side considerably. The trade-off for such a move will mean that either India goes in with only four genuine bowling options or someone like Ajinkya Rahane gets left out.
Following a dismal performance in the series opener, India’s batsmen could be low in confidence. Hence, a more prudent decision should see the team abandoning their five bowler ploy. The other change might see Ishant making way for Bhuvneshwar in the seam department.