The Indian team is facing a high amount of pressure from both, inside and outside the pitch. The biggest pressure is high expectations.
The recent loss to South Africa by 2-1 is giving grave signals to the management that it is now time to make a complete overhaul of the Test team with fresh faces rather than just keeping worn out and under-performing players. Because the Indian team is high on promise but falters during delivery.
Even the team and management are to the liking of Kohli, and he has made his team a world-class batting unit. But a high amount of self-belief is now slowly chipping away thus revealing a different picture.
While making a team of champions, it is essential to have skills of consistency, a culture of accountability and merit, commitment, and character. But Kohli and co. did not give us these attributes which would be a bit harsh for them. Their victories in Australia and England are proof enough that they have the caliber to perform under extreme heat and pressure.
But it all comes down to individual performances. One or the other player has either batted or bowled well to keep India in the hunt. Like Rishabh Pant did in the fourth innings of the Cape Town Test.
The likes of bowlers such as Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammad Siraj, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Umesh Yadav have bowled brilliant spells at one time or the other but have failed as a batting unit that puts tremendous pressure on the team.
Kohli, too as a captain, is struggling from series to series trying to make at least 30 runs in an innings. In his fifteen matches since 2020, he has been able to amass just 760 runs in 27 innings.
We all know that Kohli is a great batsman, but now it doesn’t feel right for him to travel around like baggage for the team.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have got way too many chances in Tests and they have given a lot of poor performances. For Pujara, in his 20 Test matches since 2020, he has scored only 973 runs in 38 innings. He also had an average of 28 in over 14 Tests.
Rahane, on the other hand, is also just holding his position due to his sheer reputation and on the insistence of the management. He has not played any credible innings and has made just 20 runs in an inning. This is highly unacceptable from a middle-order batsman. He has 819 runs from 19 Test matches and 35 innings which does not allow him to be a part of the current Indian Test team.
If we talk about KL Rahul, he has shown great form and maturity in his batting. He must have been disappointed about his early dismissals at Cape Town but he shouldn’t be disheartened by that. His hundred at Centurion and half-century at Johannesburg are exceptional, he just needs to continue building on this momentum.
But the team relies more on accidents than looking to encourage the bright spots.
It’s high time for the management to let go of old players and make way for new faces because the team needs it crucially at this time. The current team has a lot of weary players who need to rest and play first-class cricket if they want to join the Test team again.
Rahul Dravid has a lot of work to do for this team. Only he can, through his wisdom infuse a fresh look to the Test team. He knows and understands the pain that the inconsistent bunch is posing and he also has inside knowledge of the talent sitting on the bench. It is now up to the management to bring in a culture of performance and not just depend on the pedigree of a player. And Dravid has to make sure that these changes get enforced as quickly as possible.
A lot of talent is present in the team such as Hanuma Vihari, Shubhman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, and Shreyas Iyer who are raring to go out and play but instead are warming the benches and becoming sideline spectators. This is a big repercussion for their careers.
But, cricket is not a sport of the individual; it is a team sport. So, the focus should be on building a team that transcends the individual and works as a team. For that to happen, it will require a culture and temperament from the management and coach.
And this action needs to be taken now. Just resting on past laurels and reputations won’t help the Indian team in becoming the champions of the world.
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