Domestic Cricket
Batsmen For The Future
5 years, 3 months ago Posted in: Domestic Cricket, International Cricket 24
Batsmen For The Future

Amidst all the hoopla around the tour to Australia—being touted as the ‘Battle Royale’, a fight for ascendancy and honor, a reiteration of our grit, and all the rest—we seem to be missing a far more intriguing point. This will perhaps be the last time we’d be seeing the three Greats of Indian Test Cricket—Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid, together in a series overseas. As poignant as that though is, it is also equally disturbing for all ardent cricket fans—who’d surface as the new sentinel of Indian Cricket, is the big question. Until now, the trio had held fort—and hence both our present and future looked secure, but with their inevitable goodbyes coming close, there seems to be a dire urgency to look for people to fill their slots. But these are rather big shoes to fill and perhaps, will never be filled with the same authority. The reason though is not a lack of talent—we have enough to be proud of, but for the sheer amount of cricket that these talented cricketers are made to play in today’s day and age. The juggle between three formats is bound to take its toll and hence it is rather naïve to believe that players of this generation will last 2 decades of International cricket. In the current circumstances, it would be advisable to not look too far ahead and focus on immediate replacements.

With thousands of runs scored in every first-class season, ideally we should be spoilt for choices but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most of the runs scored are on placid batting surfaces against mediocre bowling attacks and in not-so-significant matches—we need to dig a little deeper to separate chalk from cheese. That’s what I’d try to do here—have a closer look at the possible candidates to fill the middle-order slots when the opportunity arises.

Virat Kohli—he’s arguably the best thing to have happened to Indian cricket in the last few years. He started as a young hard-hitting batsman, but was soon found guilty of throwing away the starts. Over the last couple of years, his transition from being a boy to a man has been seamless. He’s matured with every game and acknowledged the importance of converting starts into big match winning knocks. His appetite for runs seems insatiable and makes him the frontrunner for the number 3 slot. Though he looks comfortable against pace in shorter formats, he still needs to work a lot on the way he handles short-pitched stuff in Test matches. While his technique looks almost perfect to suit the demands of fifty overs cricket, he may have to move his feet a bit more and also ensure that the front-foot doesn’t fall too across to succeed in the longer format, especially in seamer-friendly conditions.

Cheteshwar Pujara—if I wanted someone to bat to save my life, it would be the man from Saurashtra. He’s technically very correct and also has the penchant for scoring big runs. On tricky surfaces where most young batsmen play shot-a-ball to get out of the jail, he trusts his technical ability to bail him out. He uses his feet beautifully against spinners, is equally comfortable against pace and most importantly knows the art of batting time. He could be the man to bat at number 4 for India in Test cricket.

Rohit Sharma—he’s blessed with great balance and an amazing sense of timing. Even though his movements look slow to an onlooker, he gets in the right positions much before the ball arrives, which means he gets a lot of time to react to every delivery. Pace doesn’t bother him and neither does the bounce. There aren’t any obvious chinks in his armory except his own temperament. He can play orthodox and somewhat conservative cricket also but often allows his ego to get the better of him. He doesn’t appreciate a bowler keeping him quiet for too long or even not complying to his need to break free. Off late, he’s managed to curb this instinct and it’s already showing in his consistency. He can be the man to bat at number 5 provided he keeps that hunger alive.

Ajinkya Rahane—he’s only 23 and has already scored 18 first-class centuries with an average of over 60 runs per innings. I’m not a numbers man but these numbers are too gigantic to be ignored. And it’s not just the numbers Rahane boasts of; he’s a fine player with a heady mix of correct technique, temperament to bat for long and a bit of aggression to boot. In the limited International exposure, he’s looked very much a part of the big league. In my opinion the biggest challenge he faces is his slot in the batting order. Though he’s selected as an opener, he’s not yet ready to face the new ball in the longer format. And you wouldn’t blame the man either, for he’s rarely opened for Mumbai in the Ranji trophy. He’ll have to tighten his technique a bit more to succeed as an opener in the longer format.

Badrinath/Raina—the former ticks all the boxes for selection but continues to find the cold shoulder from the men who matter. Perhaps, they’ve decided to look ahead of him. The latter, on the contrary, had everything going in his favor to cement his place in the Test side before anyone else but he let that opportunity slip. If he wants to get back into the scheme of things for the longer format, before tackling the bouncers, he must find ways to fight the demons inside his head. He’s a talented batsman but talent can take you only so far.

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24 Responses

  1. Aman says:

    In the age of instant gratification youngsters are crucified at the drop of the hat,For instance Laxman averaged 27 in his first 20 tests,Dravid had 1 century in 20,and Tendulkar averaged 37,Only difference was there was no immense public criticism and they went on to play 100+ test matches with distinction.If there is an obvious talent pick them and give them at least 20 test matches and if they are not good enough then move on,The whole business of dropping after twin failures going to hurt the youngsters

  2. kedar deshpande says:

    hello sir,
    i m big fan of your blogs.sir here in this blog the players which you have selected are all now best in the country and have proved their mettle in the shorter format of the game.but i would like to add one more point they have to take care of AJINKYA RAHANE who is not an usual choice as an opener as he had performed in the england series.instead of that they can go for A.MITHUN and drop him for his regular position i.e 3rd position otherwise his calibre will get wasted if his position changes time to time.

    • Himanshu says:

      dude..Mithun is a bowler not a batsman :p
      his calibre will obviously get wasted if u let him open the batting instead of bowling..

  3. Rathin Raval says:

    I fancy Manoj Tiwari over Raina/Badri. However you would have seen him (Tiwari) from close quarters more than I would have.

  4. I rate chateshwar Pujara higher than any of younger batsmen & dont see raina playing lot of tests for india.

  5. Nikhil says:

    Dear Akash,

    Have you lost faith in Yuvraj Singh? I would definitely give him a long rope because of his destructive batting and the extra balance he lends to the team in terms of his left arm spin.

    My top 7 would be: Sehwag, Gambhir, Rahane/Pujara, Kohli/Badri, Rohit, Yuvraj, Dhoni.

    Cheers,
    Nikhil

    • Aakash says:

      I haven’t lost faith in him but he needs to turn the tables very soon. I think that he’s living on borrowed time. But having said that, if he cements his Test spot, it would be absolutely brilliant for the team.

  6. Karthik Padmanabhan says:

    While I agree with these 5, I wish you had expanded the list a little more and given your views on batsmen who, in my opinion, could be equally worthy of the Indian cap – Abhinav Mukund, Manoj Tiwary, Abhishek Nayar and maybe Ambati Rayadu.

  7. Chandan says:

    Why no mention of Tiwari? He has looked better than Badrinath. And what about few more choices like Manish Pandey and few openers too?

    • Aakash says:

      Tiwary still has to go a long way, I feel. Also needed to adhere to a word count…could have added a few more names but would have made this too lengthy.

  8. Yash says:

    Pujara looked very promising but unfortunately got a few injuries. I am banking on Ajinkya Rahane and Virat kohli to be the BIG stars for Indian and world cricket. Kohli is doing well already and Rahane has scored 4862 runs @ 68.47 in just 50 matches. Now thats a great talent and I hope he groomed well by our seniors! Rohit Sharma will soon be a permanent member of the Indian Test 11.

  9. Shilpa says:

    Dear aakash,
    we wll know plenty about Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Raina, Badri…..and nothing that you write has not been written already.

    reading the title I thouhgt as a senior active pro on the Ranji circuit still…. you were gonna tell us fresh news about new talent that you have spotted on our FC circutit that we haven’t heard off…

    like Mandeep of Punjab
    or Stuart Binny on karanataka
    or Abhishek Nayars explosive return to Mumbai
    and something about the guy who scored a double hundred in Ranji debut…this season
    regards

    • M S Vijayakumar says:

      Ravindra Jadeja is all batting well, got triple hundred, – India will prosper if one good bowler is batting in the middle order, – if he is a leggie I will fancy him more, – essence all rounder is a must for a champ side,

    • Aakash says:

      Sorry to have disappointed you. But the names that you’ve mentioned and the ones in the Ranji circuit will have to prove themselves for at least a couple of seasons to stake a claim.

  10. Siddharth says:

    I agree with your choices of Kohli, Rohit, Rahane & Pujara. But I wouldn’t bat Kohli at 3. Considering Sehwag & Gambhir will still open together for the next 4-5 years may be, I’d bat Rahane at 3, Kohli at 4, Rohit at 5 and Pujara at 6. Pujara’s technique will be needed at 6, where he would be facing the 2nd new ball fairly often.

  11. M S Vijayakumar says:

    I see some good chances for Ashwin to bat in the middle, that can open up another all rounder slot, i.e., 4 pacers or 3 + 1 bowlers apart from Ashwin, he is batting wonderfully even in disastrous 1st 1st match, in the 2nd innings he has got 30 useful runs, he can be encouraged,

  12. M S Vijayakumar says:

    Rohit is the best choice, he is rallying the tail enders also wonderfully, against WI one dayers, he stood solid as rock even when batting was disintegrating, that too he rallied the tail enders,

  13. M S Vijayakumar says:

    Good opening, solid start gives confidence to the middle order also, so good Opening pair must be found immediately, for future – Mukund and Murali Vijay can be groomed, = for all these things to happen more of India A tour can happen, – I do not see much longevity for the current opening pair Shewag and Ghambhir

  14. Ramachandra Shetty says:

    Rohit Sharma at no 4,Pujara at no 3,Rahane as one of the opener and Virat at No 3,Manish Pandey/Surya kumar Yadav/Manoj Tiwary at No6.These places to be filled once Dravid and Laxman call it a day.I think Sachin will go on and on..in that case Rohit at no 5,Virat at no 6

  15. Hakim says:

    Any thoughts about Ashok Menaria as a Future aspect ?
    he was good last season for rajasthan & scored a double ton before getting injured.

  16. Mohd.. Faqruddin says:

    DEAR AAKASH
    I NEED YOU TO READ THE LINES AND WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHT’S

    DRAVID, SACHIN, LAXMAN WILL LEAVE SOONER THAN LATER – WHO ARE THE
    NEXT TO FILL THIS HUGE GAP.. I READ /HEAR ABOUT VIRAT,PUJARA,ROHIT,BADRI ETC — BUT YOU NEED EXPERIENCE TO FILL THIS GAP I PERSONALLY PREFER YUVRAJ SINGH, MOHD. KAIF Since these guys have experience and quality at International level
    then you can have a ROHIT / VIRAT /PUJARA TO Fill the 5 & 6th spot. TALENT WITH EXPERIENCE IS THE RIGHT COMBO ..YOU CAN HAVE
    TALENT for ODI’S OR T20 but you cannot take such big risk for TEST CRICKET. ALSO I WOULD LIKE TO SEE YOU AS THE OPENER IN PLACE OF EITHER SEHWAG / GAMBHIR…PLS COMMENT SIR

  17. Praveer Ranjan says:

    Rohit and Raina have wasted/ are wasting the opportunities given to them…after almost circulating for 5-6 yrs and playing 75+ matches…none of them evoke a confidence what kohli does….its high time that the country looks beyond these players who not only look unfit but uninterested too…taking their place and stardom for granted.

  18. groggy says:

    what about Rayudu, he has shown good temperament but somehow he has not been given an opportunity.

    • Eduardo says:

      v SA, beating both MV & SB in terms of avreages for that series. Details of Badri & MV v SA:Badri’s last innings (Kolkata) : TOTALLY OUTCLASSED; Badri totally exposed. MV: work out by bouncers + lame poke. Hit on head.Previous innings: Badri: lunged out with an open bat-face, got the outside edge , previous delivery, opens the bat-face + gets its through 1st slip. Also, Badri ducks right into the delivery line of a short ball & hit. falls over on that front foot and hits the pad.. HE shows clipping leg stump Gets past the defensive prod and strikes the pad , hit pad, hit pad, etc.Badri was rubbish and you should know it by now. MV can’t face the short ball and is weak outside the off-stump. Neither is good against quality pace.

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