Jasprit Bumrah looks all set to be included in the playing 11 for the third Test today as India look to make a comeback in series against England
Jasprit Bumrah during the practice session at Trent Bridge yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Before the start of the Pataudi Trophy, India coach Ravi Shastri had told the Times paper in England: “The goal for our team is to be the best travelling team in the world.” Nobody can deny Shastri’s vision and bravado, but two Tests and India are already facing the prospect of losing back-to-back away series.
India are so far behind the eight ball that even minor misjudgments in team selections — batting, bowling or fielding — could result in going 3-0 down in the series. India have created conundrums on their own and even Shastri admitted that they got the team balance wrong at Lord’s.
Right balance needed
Today, they first need to ensure the team has the right balance. The cool climate predicted at Nottingham, a pitch that seems to have a touch of moisture and the constant breeze that blows across the ground makes this venue a paradise for swing bowling. Since 2010, fast bowlers have averaged 25.67 compared to 49.51 by the spinners. Based on those stats, India will need to decide who will replace Kuldeep Yadav.
As far as Kohli was concerned, there was no dilemma and the Indian captain had no hesitation in indicating that Jasprit Bumrah would walk straight in. “We are very excited he’s [Bumrah] coming back. He’s obviously a quality bowler and it’s great to have someone like that in the park. He showed that in South Africa already and he’s one guy who’s really aggressive,” Kohli told reporters.
Pant likely to play
But rather than bowling, it will once again be the batting that will be under the scanner. In the last five away Tests, no Indian batsman apart from Kohli is averaging more than 21. Apart from the skipper, only Hardik Pandya and Cheteshwar Pujara have registered fifties. On the evidence of India’s practice session, Murali Vijay is likely to hold on to his spot and Rishabh Pant is certain to make his debut.
This is a team that has been encouraged by Shastri and Kohli to play an aggressive brand of cricket. So far in the series, the batsmen have been muddled with doubts and uncertainty. Perhaps, the time has come to back their natural instincts, play with freedom and put the pressure back on England. It will be a tough ask, but it is also time this group lives up to the hype and delivers on foreign soil. There is no space for audacious statements and all the noise needs to be made by the willow.