Should selectors recall Parthiv Patel: Post a very successful series against New Zealand, late last year and England, early this year, Team India seems to have ‘lost their way’ while playing Australians in the ongoing Border-Gavaksar Trophy 2017.
The team does not, by any means, appear to be the one that vanquished the Kiwis and the Queens’ Men quite convincingly, not too long ago.
Losing the first Test at Pune in under three days, they are not in any better situation in the second Test at Bengaluru, either.
Re-grouping and re-strategising after the humiliating defeat at Pune, it was expected that the boys would come out and ‘fire on all cylinders’ and restore the lost pride.
Winning the toss and electing to bat, the Indian batters found it extremely difficult to negotiate the Aussie spinners and score runs against them.
If it was Steve O’Keefe who tormented the Indian batsmen, it was the off-spinner, Nathan Lyon, who made them ’dance to his tunes’, picking up 8 wickets, giving away only 50 runs in his spell of 22.2 overs in India’s first innings.
The Indian batting line-up failed miserably scoring just 105 runs and 107 runs in the two innings at Pune. The first innings at Bengaluru saw them put only 189 runs on the board.
Given the ineffectiveness of Indian bowlers, the Aussies managed to take a first innings lead of 89 runs.
The second innings of the Indians also did not have much to ‘write home about’ since the entire team could muster only 274 runs, thanks to some sensible batting by KL Rahul (51), Cheteshwar Pujara (92) and Ajinkya Rahane (52).
Incidentally Rahul played a great knock in the first innings also scoring 90 runs. The main issue has been that the openers have not been successful in giving good starts. Middle-order has been a disaster. The skipper, Kohli, who had, not too long ago, scored tons and tons of runs against New Zealand and England, looked completely clueless against the Aussie spinners.
He got out in a very clumsy manner in all the four innings, either playing a ball that should have been left alone OR not offering a shot to a ball that should have been whacked away.
Kohli was found wanting in his captaincy skills, as well, with his field placements and bowing changes just going awry.
Indian bowlers also did not rise to the occasion but there were patches of reasonably good performances, like Ravindra Jadeja picking up 6/63 in Aussie’s first innings at Bengaluru.
The Indian opening pair of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul have not been successful in putting up a good partnership in the first Test. An injury to Vijay saw Abhinav Mukund take his place in the second Test. Mukund, making a comeback into the Test squad after a hiatus of five years, greatly disappointed the Team Management and the BCCI selectors.
He managed to face only 40 deliveries and scored just 16 runs in the bargain, both the innings put together. Team India have a ‘gaping hole’ at the top. This has to be set right so that the team can stay in contention in the series.
The home series against England saw the recall of the Gujarat stumper, Paarthiv Patel, to the Test team, thanks to Wriddhiman Saha midway through the series.
Patel had a dream comeback to the Test arena after a long gap of 8 years. Many following the game also raised their eye-brows at this decision of BCCI selectors.
However, Patel lived upto the confidence reposed in him.
Featuring in four innings from three Test matches in the series (remaining unbeaten once), Patel had scored 195 runs (with a couple of half-tons) at an average of 65 and personal best of 71 runs.
At 31 years and 266 days, Parthiv is no youngster. However, with his stellar performances, both in front of the stumps and behind, he had clearly sent a message to the selectors that there is still a lot of cricket left in him and he is no ‘push-over.’
At a time when the team is finding it hard to work out a proper opening combination, it may not be a bad idea to bring in Patel as a ‘pure batsman’ while Saha can don the big gloves.
Replying to the question whether Patel could be retained as a batsman, Kohli, at the end of the Mohali Test (against England), had said, “You never know, there are all kinds of possibilities. The way he (Parthiv) approached both innings, it was amazing to see. That’s where experience from the first-class level comes into play. He’s someone who’s played (for India) at a very early age and he’s come back and the intent he showed in both innings, I think, just deflated the opposition. Credit to him to go out there and counter-attack and take on their seamers. You never know. We’ll see what happens in the next few days. We’ll take a call accordingly.”
“I think he really stood out in this game for me as a batsman.”
The selectors need to take a call on Patel