What a tour it has been for the Indian team. After the forgettable tours last year to England and Australia, it will be a happy team that returns home to rest a few days before taking on New Zealand in two Tests and two T20 games. It has been a triumphant trip with just a hiccup in the second one-dayer when perhaps the Indian team got a touch carried away with their 300 plus score in the previous game and succumbed playing it as a T20 match.
Be that as it may, they picked themselves up remarkably well and never really let the hosts Sri Lanka in the rest of the games. The batting was dominant and the bowling managed to do its bit. In limited overs cricket as we all know the bowlers are invariably on a hiding to nothing and so have to do the best they can. Ashwin and Pathan were the pick of the bowlers and with the others chipping in, they did not let the batsmen down.
The bowling though is an aspect which the selectors will have to think and long about when they meet, for the teeth needed to take 20 wickets are not quite there and while on Indian pitches they might still do the job, it is playing overseas that they need to win games for India.
Hopefully, Ishant Sharma will be fit and available for the series later in the season for that is going to be the real examination and with all due respect not against New Zealand. The Kiwis lost both the Tests against a resurgent West Indies team and on good pitches too, so on wickets where there will be some purchase for the spinners their task is not going to be any easier.
With the kind of sublime form that Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir have been in, the batting takes care of itself, with Tendulkar back in the team to add muscle and experience and with Sehwag looking in good touch there should be lesser worries for the selectors on that front.
The only debate will be who will take the irreplaceable Rahul Dravid’s place and if VVS Laxman should get an extension to a career that is nearer the end, than the beginning. If the thinking is that these two Tests should be used to look at some options then we probably have seen the last of the elegant Hyderabadi in Tests.
The selectors have been reluctant to wield the axe especially against established players and there is no question that those with a proven record should be given a longer rope than the unproven ones. Still it is going to be the one call that will engage the selectors more than any other position. It would be interesting to see what the skipper and coach want.
The season has had an unusually early start, but it has been quite a brilliant start and that augurs well for the rest of the season or does it?