Team India got their first series win of the new World Test Championship (WTC) cycle as they beat the West Indies 1-0 in a two-match assignment in the Caribbean recently.
The visitors took a commanding lead in the series with a thumping win in the first Test and seemed all set to replicate the feat in the second, although they were met with slightly more resistance. In the end, rain had the final say, washing out Day 5 and ensuring that India dropped points for the first time in the new cycle.
Rohit Sharma and Co. won’t play a Test in nearly half a year, with focus shifting to the ODI format and the home World Cup. By the time they embark upon difficult contests away in South Africa and at home against England, they may not be any better equipped to deal with their current concerns.
Here are three major concerns for Team India in Test cricket after the West Indies series.
Three major concerns for Team India
#3 India still haven’t sorted out their wicket-keeper problem
Ishan Kishan made his maiden Test half-century in the second game
Rishabh Pant’s absence has left a gaping hole in the middle order. Not only do India not have a maverick batter capable of winning games single-handedly, but they’ve also missed the young southpaw’s underrated glovework behind the stumps.
KS Bharat was given a go for a bit, but poor performances with the bat in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the WTC final led to him being dropped from the playing XI. Ishan Kishan subsequently made his debut against the Windies.
Although Kishan notched up his maiden Test half-century in the second match and was decent behind the stumps, batting conditions were extremely favorable. He wasn’t put under any kind of duress by the home bowlers and is bound to be tested during upcoming Tests.
Pant’s fitness and timeline of return are still major unknowns, and if the frontline keeper doesn’t make the grade against the Proteas, India will be left with an unpredictable entity in Kishan.
#2 The team’s pace reserves are now proven to be rather thin
Mukesh Kumar made his Test debut in Trinidad and picked up two wickets
India’s fast bowlers were always going to be put under the pump against West Indies. Without Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav, the Men in Blue needed to rely on fresh faces to come up with the goods.
While Mohammed Siraj stepped up to the plate admirably, the lack of pace-bowling quality reflected in the performances of the others. Shardul Thakur is never the ideal third seamer in a Test attack, and Jaydev Unadkat didn’t pick up a single wicket over the course of the series.
Mukesh Kumar made his debut in Trinidad, and while he was accurate, he wasn’t as threatening as India would’ve liked him to be. Navdeep Saini warmed the bench throughout the assignment.
Where are India’s pace reserves who are ready to step in when the big boys are unavailable? Unless the likes of Bumrah return and fire on all cylinders, they might be in trouble during future series.
#1 Rohit Sharma and Co. have concerns over the No. 3 and No. 5 positions
Ajinkya Rahane arguably isn’t the man to bat at No. 5 throughout the ongoing WTC cycle
For the first time in what feels like ages, India made some bold decisions in their batting lineup. With KL Rahul unavailable, Yashasvi Jaiswal opened the batting to great effect. Shubman Gill, meanwhile, asked to bat at No. 5 and had his wishes duly granted.
However, Gill couldn’t make an impact at the position, failing in two of his three innings even as Rohit, Jaiswal and Virat Kohli made the most of the favorable batting conditions by piling on the runs. The young batter was dismissed once each by pace and spin before dropping anchor and batting time in his final knock.
Ajinkya Rahane, on the other hand, continued to bat at No. 5 after making a comeback to the side for the WTC final. The vice-captain notched up two single-digit scores in the series, failing to live up to his excellent record in the Caribbean.
Rahane’s career has suggested that he isn’t among the more reliable middle-order batters, while Gill’s exploits seem to indicate that he’d be more at home at No. 5. Will India be able to drop their vice-captain and find a new No. 3, though?
Two key positions in the Test batting order are currently up in the air, with not much time to find a solution.