Should Team India adopt the ‘five-bowler’ theory : Former Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a great advocate of 7+4 combination and has been going into every game with four specialist bowlers. He always insisted on having an extra batsman in the team, expecting to ’bat out’ the opposition and met with success too.
With the captaincy baton passing on to the young and vibrant Virat Kohli, a great element of so-called ‘aggression’ had rubbed on to Team India. The aggressive approach of the young skipper, saw him believing in the ’five bowler’ theory, sacrificing a batsman to include a specialist bowler into the Playing XI, be it pace or spin, depending upon the playing conditions.
Kohli met with sufficient success in his 6+5 approach and lately he won a ‘five-match series, 4-0 against England at home.
After following a similar Playing XI combination for the First Test in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Team India reverted back to the 7+4 combination.
The team has met with mixed results, with the first Test being won by Australia, the second one by India and the third ending in a draw.
This approach of ‘four-bowler’ theory seemed to hurt the team to some extent, as the skipper had to rely on the part-time bowlers like Karun Nair in Bengaluru and Murali Vijay at Ranchi.
Atleast in the third Test at Ranchi, as the visitors were adopting the technique of ‘playing out’ the overs and ensuring a DRAW for a result, a fifth specialist bowler might have inflicted damage on them and could have ensured an Indian victory.
Maybe the ‘think-tank’ of the team could look into the possibility of adopting 6+5 combination for the final Test at Dharmashala.
Historically the venue has been favouring the pacers, given the climate and the location of the venue.
In such a situation, if Team India decides to have an extra specialist bowler in the Playing XI, they would want to include a pacer, sacrificing a batsman in the process and that batsman could be the young Karun Nair, who has not made any significant contribution in the series, thus far.
There are two pacers who can make the cut.
Mohammad Shami made a return to competitive cricket after a long injury lay-off, when he represented Bengal in the title clash of Vijay Hazare Trophy early this week. Though his presence in the Playing XI did not ‘turn the table’ in favour of Bengal, his personal performance was ‘par excellence’ as he went to take 4 wickets in his spell of 10 overs.
The other pacer who has been travelling with the team without having much to do in the middle, thus far in the series, is Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
Shami, though is with the squad, he was not officially selected. As such whether Team India could include him in the Playing XI is something which only time will tell.
All said and done, the team management might have to fall back on the ‘five-bowler’ combination as the team needs to win the Test in order to win the series and reclaim the trophy.