Even 20-30 runs from the tail will matter a lot – Rahane
According to vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, India’s fast bowlers have been hard at work with the bat in the build-up to the series-opening Nottingham Test. While the rise of the current crop of quicks has made this Indian Test side competitive on the road, it has also increased the possibility of lower-order contributions.
Because lower-order runs are so important, India’s last two losses away from home, in Adelaide and Southampton, were partly due to their lower-order failing to match the opposition despite their top-six outscoring them. Only Shardul Thakur (16.58) and Umesh Yadav (14.38), who are potentially fifth and sixth in the bowling pecking order, have averaged over 10 in first-class cricket.
The last Tour of England
India’s recent tour of England was marred by a lower-order deficit, whilst England could rely on Sam Curran and Chris Woakes to produce game-changing contributions with the bat. This tail vulnerability may compel India to leave out one of R.’s teammates.
Moving away from their approach of fielding five bowlers in each of their last four Tests, Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja to play an extra seamer or beef up their batting with another specialist hitter.
“When we came here to England after the WTC final, after that we started our practice in Durham, our fast bowlers were eager to bat in the nets every day and we’re asking our batting coach…,” Rahane said.
“They wanted to bat [for] 10-12 minutes which is a very good sign. And out of India, you have to play a certain combination when you want to win a Test match. We are not too concerned about playing five bowlers or four bowlers, so we have to assess the wicket which is tomorrow, and then decide what combination we can go with. But we are not too fussy or too worried about five or four bowlers.”
Hardik Pandya is still Unavailable
Hardik Pandya, who took a five-for and scored 52* in India’s triumph at Trent Bridge in 2018, is still unavailable for Tests after only recently returning to bowling after back surgery. As a result, Shardul Thakur, who demonstrated his pedigree in the memorable Brisbane win, is the closest the visitors have got to a seam-bowling all-rounder.
“What Hardik did in 2018 was different,” Rahane said. “Shardul can bat and you saw him do it in Australia and has done it in domestic cricket too. Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, Ishant, Umesh have all put in their efforts in the nets. They all want to contribute.. even 20-30 runs in the end, which matters a lot. It is a good sign that they are going to the net and batting because the results come later on.
What is important is to follow a process and what you want to contribute. They are putting in the effort and we are confident that they can make contributions. We have faith in all of them.”
“You see playing away from home, it’s always a challenge be it England, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. It’s all about putting your best foot forward and I think getting used to the conditions very quickly,” Rahane said. “I thought [in] 2018 we played some very good cricket, but the result didn’t go our way.
So rather than focus on the series, we’ll focus on one game at a time and try and give our best for that. Because the points system is important, each game is important rather than looking at the whole series. So whatever the result, we will aim to give our best in every game.”