Border Gavaskar: India eyes summit clash, Oz seeks revenge
NAGPUR: Rohit Sharma, a bonafide white-ball legend, will face his biggest test as India’s red-ball captain against a determined Australian side which would be hungry for revenge when the much-awaited Border-Gavaskar series starts here Thursday.
It is a series that promises a lot of twists and turns, engrossing sub-plots and probably career-defining performances.
Will captain Rohit Sharma curb his instinct to pull Pat Cummins if the Australian captain keeps a long leg and digs one short?
Will Virat Kohli use the sweep shot more often against Ashton Agar and Nathan Lyon as the batting stalwart looks to turn around his ordinary showing against slow bowlers in recent times? Can Suryakumar Yadav’s ‘three-dimensional’ strokeplay earn him Rahul Dravid’s faith ahead of Shubman Gill, the man touted to lead India’s batting when the transition phase kicks-in in another 18 to 24 months?
Will Axar Patel’s under-cutters be more effective than Kuldeep Yadav’s trickeries of bringing the ball back into right handers?
The quality of India versus Australia Test matches since the epic 2001 series has, at times, been better than the Ashes. The journey of this batch of Australian cricketers won’t be complete if they don’t emulate the exploits of the Matthew Haydens, Justin Langers, Glenn McGraths or the Adam Gilchrists of 2004.
Steve Smith put it aptly, saying a series win in India will be bigger than the Ashes.
For Rohit, who has unfortunately missed all the Test matches or series against bigger teams either due to injuries (hamstring vs South Africa and split webbing vs Bangladesh in 2022) or illness (Covid-19 vs England in the one-off game), would like to emulate his predecessor Kohli in leading the team to another World Test Championship final.
For that to happen, India will need a clear two-match victory margin and Rohit’s biggest weapon of execution will be his quartet of spinners, out of which three are supposed to play. Not to forget, his batters need to rise up to Nathan Lyon’s challenge.
Those who have followed the developments in Indian cricket, know that Rohit was initially reluctant to take up red-ball captaincy and is yet to face any major opposition as leader in the format. This is the series which will actually chart his legacy as a leader.
No one knows how he must have felt when the BCCI removed him from T20I captaincy after the World Cup defeat in Australia last year. But knowing Rohit, he will never say a word publicly though he would definitely have been hurt.
The decisions he takes during the series will go a long way in defining his leadership qualities in testing times.
He will miss Rishabh Pant, his biggest game-changer, and how the team adjusts to the keeper-batter’s absence will be the most important aspect during the series.
Kona Bharat’s ability as a keeper is impressive but despite a triple hundred at the Ranji level, one isn’t quite sure about his capabilities as a batter while facing high-quality Test match bowling.
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