Kolkata: When India staged a miraculous recovery to win the Test series against Australia in January, South African great AB de Villiers had termed their depth of talent as scary. One could see it gradually emerging over the last four to five years - but didn’t appreciate how ‘scary’ it was till a Facebook post by Mohandas Menon, the master statistician, drove home the point after the hosts won the first One-day International against England with a well-rounded performance on Tuesday.
All he did was to name as many as 18 players - more or less regulars in India’s white ball set-up - who were not present in the team’s win. Just take a look at who all were not there - Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, Surya Kumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant among batsmen & wicketkeepers; Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Rahul Chahar among spinners and Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, T.Natarajan, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini among the fast bowlers.
Menon had also named Manish Pandey, who had been out of favour in recent times and Devdutt Padikkal, who could not be considered even after thrashing four centuries in the Vijay Hazare Trophy - which is played in the same format.
The performance of Indian debutants in recent times - highlighted once again by the nerveless batting of Krunal Pandya and the spot-on bowling by Prasidh Krishna against the world champions in the previous match have become the talking point in the cricketing circles now. As India look to seal the ODI series in their second game in Pune on Friday, the loss of young Shreyas Iyer due to a serious injury came as an unfortunate blow for them - though for now - they have enough options to choose from.
A bench strength as this could be quite an object of envy for other international teams - and well known stars from other countries have been open in their admiration for the system which is producing such an assemblyline of talent. While De Villiers found it scary, someone like Mohammed Amir from across the border spoke about the process which produces readymade talent like Ishan Kishan in his interview with a Pakistan channel about a week back.
Surely, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are doing something right. While the Indian Premier League (IPL) is credited more often in nursing uncapped talent, the country’s domestic structure as well as the India A tours under Rahul Dravid have played a big hand in creating this talent pool.
Faced with the inevitable question about the factors contributing to this, Indian team’s senior pro KL Rahul said: “A huge part is the IPL and the confidence that these boys come in with.” in a virtual chat on Thursday.
The competition against top international stars in the IPL, according to Rahul, help them gain in confidence levels and become consistent performers in the domestic game. As long as it’s helping Indian cricket, nobody is complaining.
Catch the match
India vs England
Second One-day International, Pune
Match starts from 12 pm UAE