India's facile win over New Zealand in the first Test of what is a season of 10 Test matches is a good beginning indeed. They know that they have some real hard work ahead of them and the manner in which New Zealand have batted in the first innings of the second Test is a clear indication that they need to get their bowling combination right.
On good pitches playing with just four bowlers is fraught with risk, but most teams nowadays go in with four bowlers and hope that one of the batsmen will be able to fill up and bowl a few overs to give some rest and relief to the regular bowlers. All-rounder's are a rare breed today, but if one looks back at the history of the game then one will find that it is the bowler who can bat who is more handy than the batsman, who can bowl.
It is here that Ashwin’s development as a batsman down the order that will be crucial to India in Test cricket. He has already got a Test century under his belt and in the short time that he has played for India he has shown that he is not prepared to surrender his wicket easily and has contributed valuable runs down the order. He was brilliant with the ball in the first Test that India won with ease where he captured six wickets in each of the innings and not many of the Kiwi batsmen had much of a clue while playing him.
Cheteshwar Pujara made an impressive comeback to the Indian team with a classy century which will go a long way in helping him establish himself as India’s number three batsman, a position hitherto occupied by the one and only Rahul Dravid.
In England, Hashim Amla continues his tremendous form and he got another century this time in the one-dayer and with that he helped South Africa to climb to the number one rank in that format of the game too. There are still some more games left which give England the chance to get back to the top ranking. They have levelled the series with a win in the second one-dayer and so the series looks well poised indeed.
In the United Arab Emirates the short limited overs series between 'hosts' Pakistan and Australia is starting at a pretty unusual late time because the Aussies were worried about the heat in the desert country. Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide can also get up to mid 40s in the Australian summer, but it could well be that they are coming in from their winter which has prompted the late start in UAE.
Australia is struggling with their opening batting combination and the skipper Michael Clarke, has promoted himself up the order. Mitchell Starc has been impressive with the ball and is giving the angles that batsmen find hard to score off.
Ravichandran Ashwin for his 12 wickets in the first Test at Hyderabad is the CEAT International Cricketer of the Week.