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20 December, 2020

Team India Need These 5 Upgrades, Not Knee-jerk Player Changes Ahead Of 2nd Test


India vs Australia | Border - Gavaskar Trophy | 1st Test, Adelaide Review

There's a flurry of news and development about major changes to India's Test team after they bowed down to an ignominious defeat to Australia in the only Pink Ball Test in the 4-Test series, played at Adelaide.

The manner of defeat -- lowest Test innings score of 36 -- is indigestible for Indian cricket fans. Most of them have let loose their ire on the social media.

The sadistic ones have involved Virat Kohli's pregnant actor wife, Anushka Sharma as a

distraction for India's flamboyant skipper. 

Agreed. They have their freedom of expression and as long as they haven't used profanity, they can be ignored.

However, if the news of major changes for the second Test by the Indian thinktank or selectors is true, then this ought to be knee-jerk. 

Such a drastic act is uncalled for, especially when you have two former India captains and allrounders at the helm - Sourav Ganguly as the cricket board (BCCI)'s president and Ravi Shastri as the Team India coach.

KL Rahul replacing Kohli who has proceeded on his paternity leave and Mohammed Siraj coming in for injured Mohammed Shami are understood as they are unavoidable.

Even Shubman Gill taking the place of Prithvi Shaw is acceptable as his inclusion upfront for the first Test could have, probably, changed the result.

The fourth replacement news of Rishabh Pant for Wridhiman Saha if effected would be a knee-jerk response. Pant has been talked about for his lapses as a wicket-keeper and impulsive approach as a batsman.

In comparison, Saha has been labeled as the best Test wicket-keeper batsman India has after Mahendra Singh Dhoni's exit.

This change may not help build that confidence the team needs ahead of the second Test, under a new captain, Ajinkya Rahane. 

Here are the 5 upgrades the team needs instead of major player changes:

1. All 11 Need To Be Ready as Batsmen: 

Aussie skipper Tim Payne received encouraging support from tail-enders in the team. 

Most of these tail-enders are frontline bowlers. Similarly, our frontline bowlers can't be spring chickens when their team needs them as batsmen.

They do get batting opportunities in the Indian Premier League. 

With such a large support staff, the Indian touring team also need to find space and time to provide these frontline bowlers batting practice in the nets.

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2. Lack of Intent Needs to Be Replaced By Fledged Intent, Forever: 

It looks unprofessional when the team's captain publicly admits his team showed lack of intent. The skipper was brave to be honest, very candid in his analysis.

However, in a scenario such as a Test match series, such a straightforward admission is likely to sound the negativity knell for the entire team going forward.

Then again, cricket fans would be legit if they question the reason behind this lack of intent. Today's Test cricketers are financially well-fed unlike their predecessors including legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. 

Additionally, these present day players are pampered with an entourage of support staff including physio, massage therapist, bowling coach, batting coach, throw in staff, head coach and so on.

How would those accountable for the team's performance explain this lack of intent given such modernist facilities?

3. Be Aware Of Your Weakness, At All Times: 

When they had curtailed the Aussie batsmen to a 62-run first innings deficit, the Indian bowlers were hailed as a more potent weapon compared to their counterparts.

All this changed when Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins ran through India's famed batting order in a matter of 21.2 overs in the second essay. The pair were then seen as being taller, having height advantage apart from knowing home conditions.

The truth is, the Aussie thinktank, bowlers and coaches, seem to have gone into a huddle and deciphered that the hit-back formula could be - fuller length deliveries when executed with near precision and focus.

As you know now, they put the plan into action with aplomb.

4. Bowlers, Attempt No Bad Balls:

"Your first ball has to be any of your best ball you bowl," said Aussie bowling legend Glen McGrath. Hazlewood, who's likened to McGrath for accuracy received his baggy cap on his debut from his predecessor.

On the third day, Hazlewood later said, "I was ready to go from the first ball. No warm up balls."

With his first delivery of his opening spell, Hazlewood had Mayank Agarwal back in the dressing room.

In contrast, India's bowlers, led by the hard working Bumrah didn't seem to be affected bowling loose balls while trying to defend a meagre total of 90 runs.

Here's where the team's bowling coach and head coach who himself has been an economical bowler during his time, need to instill the "No bad balls" as a habit in every bowler that gets into the Indian team.

5. Get Rid Of Corridor Of Uncertainty:

Failure makes you reach for a valid reason that has caused it. Often, an excuse could be bandied about as a plausible cause for the debacle.

Team India has gone through such a situation narrowing down their second innings batting collapse at Adelaide to Aussies Hazlewood, Cummins and Mitchel Starc bowling consistently in the area that's called the "Corridor Of Uncertainty" for the batsmen.

You'll agree to the fact that a post mortem of that brain freeze phase would clearly reveal that almost all of India's specialist batsmen were rooted to their crease instead of negating the fuller length deliveries that were aimed at them relentlessly.

Had the top order adopted a nimble footed approach and moved forward to meet the full length balls and bide their time, the result could even have progressed India's way.

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