The Indian team are currently playing in Sri Lanka in a gruelling and long series of Tests and limited over cricket. Though the middle order is settled with a strong backbone to support the rest of the team, the top-order is constantly reshuffling because of either injury or bad form.
This has left the team with a problem. A good problem and one that doesn’t look anywhere close to being solved. The Indian squad has up to five openers now for those two slots at the top and nobody’s place looks safe at all at the moment barring say, KL Rahul.
Bad luck the main cause:
The main cause for this issue stems from bad luck for these players. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay were India’s openers and were doing a very good job right till the end of the Australia series. Post that, both these players underwent surgery and had long lay-offs from the game, with Rahul even missing the Champions Trophy.
Since there was a lot of time for India to play the next Test series, these players were able to recuperate. With Vijay still making a comeback, the onus fell on Shikhar Dhawan or Rohit Sharma. The two batsmen showed their class in the Champions Trophy and though Test cricket is a different ball game, confidence is confidence.
Making the most of their opportunities:
The openers who have had a chance to bat in place of the others have made sure that the opportunity is well grabbed. After Rahul was down with the flu for the first Test, Dhawan was handed a return to the squad.
He repaid this faith from the management by making a blistering 190 runs at a strike rate way above 100. This showed that he is ready to fight for a place at the top and now will surely have Vijay and Rahul sweating.
Also, Abhinav Mukund, a player who has sporadically been playing for India was drafted in in place of Vijay. He showed that he was no pushover despite the poor first innings. He came out with more confidence in the second innings and has given the management more problems.
A good sign for the future:
Such competition for places means that this is a good sign for the future. Rohit Sharma will also be waiting for a chance to get out in the middle and this brings the quality up. All players will know that there is intense scrutiny on themselves whenever they head out to bat and no one will take their place for granted, if they were till this point.
How the Indian team goes from here remains to be seen. Once Vijay and Rahul are back, Mukund and Dhawan might get shunted out. But if they continue batting the way they did in these matches, one might just not know.
Let’s hope the problem sorts itself out sooner or later. Till then, we’ll enjoy the contest.