2013: A very uncertain Indian Test team

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 31, 2012 07:16 hrs

Never has the Indian Test team been so unsettled in recent times. Virender Sehwag scored a century after two years. It remains to be seen whether he can sustain his form in 2013. Age is fast catching up with Sehwag. 

Gautam Gambhir hasn’t scored a century against a Top 8 team for 3 years now. We may have to start looking for an opening pair sooner rather than later.

Cheteshwar Pujara is India’s biggest find, but one must remember that he flopped in the last tour of South Africa. He scored just 31 runs in 3 innings. In 2013, he will be tested by the Australian and South African pace attack. If he can survive them both, then only will he become a permanent member of the Indian side in the years to come.

MS Dhoni is hanging on to his Test captaincy by the thinnest of threads. 

Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin did great against the weak teams of West Indies and New Zealand. However, he has done not so great against the strong teams of Australia and England. He will also be severely tested against Australia and South Africa. He, Pragyan Ojha and a few others may be tried out before we can settle down with our spin attack. 

In the Test series against England, the selectors dropped both spinner Harbhajan Singh and batsman Yuvraj Singh. The question to be asked is have these two played their last Tests?

Another person who was dropped is Zaheer Khan. The selectors appear to be trying to keep him fresh for the upcoming Test series against Australia. If he fails in that, then Zaks could also be looking at the end of his career. He will turn 35 in 2013, which is old for a fast bowler.

The pace attack continues to be destabilised thanks to the non-stop injuries plaguing our quicks including that of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. More youngsters like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took 3 wickets for 9 runs in his debut T20 international, may have to be tried out.

Finally there’s the great Sachin Tendulkar. Just before the Indo-Pak series, there were a lot of reports that Sachin was keen on playing. Then two pieces of news came at once. One was that Sachin was not in the ODI team and the second that Sachin had announced his retirement.

That immediately led to a conspiracy theory that the selectors dropped Sachin, informed him in advance and he announced his retirement in the nick of time. We may never know the truth. But with the way things are going, Sachin may have to hang up his boots in the Test arena soon.

So we may have a brand new Test team by the end of 2013!

In fact youngster Virat Kohli is the only surety. Before the beginning of 2012, he had already established himself as India’s premier ODI batsman. By the beginning of the year, Kohli emerged as the top scorer in India’s tough Test tour of Australia.

Kohli ends 2012 as India’s leading run scorer in all three formats of the game: More than 1000 runs in ODIs, 689 runs in Tests and 471 runs in international T20s. (The highest ever scored in a year is 472). He’s probably the best candidate to succeed Dhoni’s captaincy if and when that happens.

It’s a great thing that coach Duncan Fletcher’s contract is finally coming to an end. His has been a highly forgettable tenure and doesn’t seem to have had any positive impact on Team India. The BCCI should start looking for his replacement in earnest.

India are doing better in the ODI and T20 scene.

In the Asia Cup we beat both Sri Lanka and Pakistan and were unlucky not to make the finals. We also beat Sri Lanka 4-1 in a bilateral ODI series. In T20s, we held Australia, England and Pakistan to 1-1 in the year and won the sole T20 in Sri Lanka. In the World Cup, we won 4 out of the 5 matches we played.

While Kohli is our star batsman, Yuvi has emerged as our star bowler! In 4 years from 2007-11, Yuvi had picked up just 8 wickets. In contrast in the last four months of 2012, he has 15 scalps. Incidentally, he also gave his career-best 72 with 7 sixes with Pakistan in India’s last T20 game of the year. Yuvi will be itching to get going in ODIs in 2013 too.

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger. 
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/