What R. Ashwin achieved at Hyderabad will do down, historically, as the best-ever test bowling figures for an Indian against New Zealand. 12 Wickets in the match, along with yet another handy cameo of 37- and once again, Ashwin felt he belonged.
Most might even forget that his bowling average in 3 tests abroad (all in Australia) is 63. Fair enough, if you take into account the fact that Kumble and Harbhajan were 10 years into their career before they delivered an overseas breakthrough performance. Add to that the inescapable fact that Ashwin is more than a handy ‘middle-order bat’, and is currently doing the job Raina (or whoever comes in at his spot) is meant to do. His batting average of 37-odd (a test century at Mumbai), makes him a handy pick for the test squad, and one that might come good more often in the future.
Pragyan Ojha wonders if YELLOW would suit him too.
Basically, he is a safe investment.
As is Pujara, and maybe, just maybe…Ojha too. A spin-twin combination, atleast at Home, is a must- otherwise we might lose whatever little (dignity) we had left after a disastrous season.
In the end, though, this 2-match New Zealand Series will go down as just a number. It will not be remembered for any reason whatsoever, unless Pujara goes on to score a double in the next match. This series, scheduled slyly by the BCCI as the first of many series for our ‘Home’ season, is about as insignificant as Rohit Sharma’s current international form. It is, therefore, a wonder that ‘young guns’ like Rahane still find themselves on the bench, when VVS Laxman made place for a deserving youngster, who might take his time to find his groove in Test Cricket. What better place than Home, on the dusty, spinning tracks of India, for a youngster to gain oodles of confidence, and hopefully utilize it on one of the Away tours in the next 15 years? I am sure VVS didn’t exactly have another domestic veteran, S. Badrinath- a compact and reliable batsman on his own, no doubt- in mind when he walked away from the perfect farewell scenario. Badrinath, now 32, will most probably find a place in the second test, after Suresh Raina once again proved that limited-over specialists still exist in this world. But one can’t help but wonder if this will be Badri’s first and last chance- a cruel blow, because he doesn’t exactly have much to gain if he succeeds, and has his career to lose if he fails…a matter of just one good ball, away.
3.5 more days of relaxation, and then we start!
Nobody knows for sure what Kris Srikkanth was smoking along with his merry old band of wiseass men, but handing Badri such a raw deal, and just giving him hope for the sake of it, could be a grave mistake- especially with keen talented kids waiting in the ranks. Pujara proved that there is more to an upcoming Indian hopeful nowadays, than just stars in their eyes and IPL on their minds.
And what’s more, once Yuvraj Singh makes his comeback in the T20 World Cup, a moderately good performance could see him take the Test spot that was always meant to be his own. After his mentor Ganguly retired, it was only a matter of time before he got a look-in. And he did, on the England tour, before his career was threatened for an entire year.
Dan In Real Life?
Now that he is back, most others will be wondering which other spot- apart from the constantly rotating bowling spots- will be available. To be honest, bowlers like Zaheer, Ishant and other pacers (except the reverse-swinging pacy young Yadav) don’t need to be picked for a series that involved the lowest rank test team in the world. Rookie spinners can do the job just by bowling 50 overs between them every innings, as proved by New Zealand’s inept new look team (no doubt engineered by the ingeniously gifted John Buchannan).
The point is, and always has been-there was NO point holding this series. The pointlessness has been driven home with an almighty bang, thanks to this selection committee’s latest indoor pyjama party.