Dubai: The Bangladesh series brings to an end a very difficult overseas assignment for the Indian team, who lost the three-match One Day International series 2-1 and won the Test series 2-0. Team India have been busy since the World Cup, travelling to New Zealand, which was followed by the Bangladesh tour and the Tigers are a different beast at home. Going forward, the Men in Blue are going to have an even busier schedule with the home series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia from January 3 to March 22. With such a busy period ahead, Gulf News takes a look at the five takeaways from the just-concluded series in Dhaka.
Kohli needs to work on his reflexes
You like it or not, Virat Kohli is in the news for one reason or the other. While there was a clamour for his ouster less than six months ago for his batting form, the talismanic Indian batter has silenced his critics, who were measuring him with lofty standards that he had set for himself. The former Indian captain silenced almost everyone by scoring a century in Twenty20 and One Day International, showing he is still one of the best in the world today. No doubt about it, even when he was not scoring those runs in the two-year period. It was an exaggerated demand. No player can keep the momentum for such a long time, not even as much as the 34-year-old had done in his career.
But one aspect of Kohli’s game is causing a real worry. His fielding. The sharp fielder must have dropped more catches in the last one year than he has done in his entire career. Almost 11 catches Kohli has floored, some of them sitter, in one year and floored four catches during Bangladesh’s second innings, that gave the hosts the fighting target. His fans are shocked by the drop in standard. It is only logical that the reflexes wane as one grows older, so it is important for someone with 293 international catches to work on it to accept these simple offerings.
Rahul’s slump in form
Expectations are high whenever the Indian opener and stand-in captain KL Rahul takes guard for a new innings. Unfortunately, the stylish batter is not able to live up to his expectations and the lack of consistency could go against his favour sooner or later. One can even say that the 30-year-old, touted as the replacement for captain Rohit Sharma, has been a tad unlucky in his career. When he is in form, Rahul gets injured and by the time he finds his touch again, the next injury follows. One of the few to play all three formats, Bangladesh Tests offered the Karnataka batter the chance to stake his claim for captaincy, but failed miserably with just 57 runs in four innings.
“We want to give it our best in every opportunity we get, and want to grab it with both hands. You want to give it your best and that never changes whatever the format is. You want to perform for your team, and country and go out there to do the best you can. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. But at least I have seen some ups and downs in whatever cricket I have played and I know that neither of the things lasts too long,” Rahul, who has an average of 34.26 after 45 Tests, said at a post-match press conference.
“You have to keep moving forward and keep trying to get better, improve yourself through your skill and just keep looking forward to the next challenge. When you play all three formats, it becomes a bit trickier to jump from one format to another. Personally, I haven’t played Tests in some time now.”
Unadkat’s surprise appearance
Left-arm pacer Jayadev Unadket must have pinched himself several times when the 31-year-old received a surprise call-up to his second Test after a gap of 12 years. Unadkat, who is now known more as a Twenty20 specialist, made his debut in 2010 and subsequently made his mark as a Twenty20 specialist. But the left-arm pacer was called in for the final Test against Bangladesh. making his dream come true.
Speaking of his comeback, Unadkat said on BCCI.tv, “I have visualised this moment maybe 1,000 times in between the first Test I played and now.” Unadkat claimed two wickets in the first innings and one in the second, but more importantly got 13 crucial runs coming in as a nightwatchman on the third day.
Injury management of pacers
While Unadkat is living his dream after the inclusion, which also gave a fodder for controversy when he replaced first-Test Player of the Match Kuldeep Yadav, it also puts things into the perspective that the Indian pace cupboard is getting empty now, due to the injuries to several top-line pacers. An aspect that the Indian board needs to look into. Hopefully, one expects the current team management to address the issue of frequent injuries to pacers in the right manner and spread the workload of India’s main weapon in perfect shape in a year the 50-over World Cup to be held at home.
Young middle order batters stand up
Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant have silenced their critics and have shown that they are ready to carry the future of Indian cricket on their shoulders. Pant, especially, had to cope with plenty of criticism and his place came under a big question mark, but the 28-year-old played two crucial knocks in two Tests that gave India the winning edge. Again on both occasion Pant could have reached his personal landmark, but he missed a century and a half-century narrowly. That’s the way he plays. Shreyas might have played only seven Tests, but stood up to be counted in both the innings in the final Test and ensured India cross the finish line after some nail-biting moments. Shreyas was also guilty of not converting his scores into milestones after getting out twice in the 80s in Tests and once in the ODI.