Explained: What will India’s team combo look like without Kohli and Shami?

Written by Vishal Menon, edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: December 20, 2020, 9:22:38 pm

Mohammed Shami, India Australia Series, Virat Kohli, India Australia Melbourne Match, Indian Express, Express explainedProbably the biggest concern for India is Mohammed Shami’s injury, which banned him from the series. (Photo: AP)

Virat Kohli’s absence, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha batting form, and Adelaide collapse are major concerns, but perhaps the biggest is Mohammed Shami’s injury that banned him from the series. How will India take 20 wickets now? How can you limit Australia to a sum that you can overcome with your optimized lineup for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne?

Who is likely to replace Shami?

It could also be Ravindra Jadeja, the weirdo with the left arm. The place in Melbourne won’t be quick; It won’t be sluggish either, but the lack of pace could lead India to partner with two nuts in Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja. It’s the old cricket logic of playing the best bowlers, and in the absence of Shami, at a place like MCG it could well come to India to Indianize their composition and play Jadeja.

There is also Chinese bowler Kuldeep Yadav, who incidentally made his test debut in 2017 under the captain of Ajinkya Rahane, who will stand up for Kohli again for the rest of the series. However, over the past 18 months, Yadav stock has gone down. The concern was that he was one touch too slow and was going through a fitness routine first and efforts were made to get him to gush the ball. Obviously, Yadav didn’t complete the makeover process as well as management would have liked, as can be seen from the fewer games he’s played recently. Adelaide’s punch implosion also underpins Jadeja, whose punch has undoubtedly increased lately.

Is there no tempo support for Shami?

Yes, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini are fit and available and will get into an argument if management thinks the field of play is at a certain pace or can offer some seam movement. Saini started the tour with a hot run in the first two ODIs but recovered with a three-wicket pull in the day-night warm-up game in Sydney. Saini’s attributes are sharp pace and his ability to make amazing bounce.

Siraj, on the other hand, is an experienced swing bowler who, under helpful conditions, can move the red ball more than most others. If the team management opts for a Pacer to replace Siraj could just get the nod for MCG and Saini would be better suited for the Pacier Strip in Brisbane.

What are the changes that can be expected in hitting?

The problem starts at the top with the openers, especially Prithvi Shaw. Due to his technical shortcomings, he only survived eight deliveries in Adelaide and is expected to be replaced by his U-19 World Cup teammate Shubman Gill. The 21-year-old has yet to make his test debut but has shown himself to be pretty confident during the Tour’s limited fast lane and even in the Tour games.

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The other major change in the stroke order would be KL Rahul, who arrives for Kohli. Rahul hasn’t shone in tests in the recent past, but those mistakes were a prelude where he got caught playing against the new ball. India would hope he can repeat his limited overs form at the MCG, the venue where he made his test debut six seasons ago.

Will Saha hold onto his place as a wicketkeeper?

Given his double failures – 9 and 4 – in Adelaide, this is unlikely. Saha is the best goalkeeper in India, but his eyelashes domestically and internationally were not up to date. To put things in perspective, Saha has run 13 innings without registering half a century in tests. His glove work could be needed more at home in spin-friendly conditions, and India is likely to step up its punch with Rishabh Pant. The Delhi wicketkeeper has the experience of playing Tests in Australia and the booming century in the Sydney warm-up game could take his case further. Given the “lack of intent” (to use Kohli’s words) in the Adelaide second innings, Pant’s aggression could be what this team needs in the episode.

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