Despite Rahul’s injury concerns, India are hoping to finish the year on a high in second Test
Published: 22nd December 2022 07:23 AM | Last Updated: 22nd December 2022 07:23 AM | A+A A-
India captain KL Rahul (L) during a practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on Wednesday. (Photo | AFP)
CHENNAI: When the 2022-23 World Test Championship FTP was announced, there was a sense of excitement as there was a possibility of India playing Pakistan in a Test match for the first time in more than a decade. That too in the WTC final. But as things stand at this point, Pakistan’s fate is not in their hands and ranked No. 7, they do not have a realistic chance. India, however, is marching on towards their second WTC final with one Test win at a time.
And their next challenge will be in Mirpur against Bangladesh starting Thursday. Make no mistake, India is almost invincible in subcontinental conditions and the hosts will have to pull off a miracle to finish on the right side of the result. That said, India has their own challenges and issues to address.
For starters, the stand-in skipper KL Rahul, who is originally Rohit Sharma’s deputy, suffered a hand injury in the nets whilst facing throwdowns from batting coach Vikram Rathour on the eve of the match. However, Rathour said it did not look serious. “He seems to be fine,” Rathour said in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “Hopefully he’ll be okay. The doctors are looking at it, but hopefully, he’ll be okay.”
That said, should Rahul miss out due to injury, Cheteshwar Pujara, who was named as vice-captain to Rahul, will become the fifth player to lead India in a Test match this year after Virat Kohli, Rahul, Rohit and Jasprit Bumrah. Abhimanyu Easwaran, who flew in as a replacement for Rohit, will take Rahul’s place in the XI.
Apart from the injury, the lack of runs from Rahul and Virat Kohli, the other experienced campaigner in the team, is a bit of concern. While Kohli averages 30 in this format this year, Rahul’s drops down to 20.83. Both have just one half-century to show in 2022. Kohli’s last Test hundred came against the same opponent in November 2019 while Rahul scored one in December 2021.
But, the team management is not worried. “I’m not going to get into those discussions, these discussions keep happening, a few things he was looking at and there’s nothing to be concerned about. He was just working on something. We are looking forward to both of them scoring runs. Hoping to see big innings from both of them from this match,” said Rathour having had a long session with both the batters on Wednesday.
While the top-order will be challenged in Mirpur, especially with the return of Taskin Ahmed in the XI, the tourists will be confident of their middle-order stepping up in these conditions. With Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer stepping up at every chance they get, the competition for a slot in the middle only grows. That they have R Ashwin, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav to follow adds depth to the batting as well. In the bowling department, it is expected to be another spin-fest.
However, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj’s contributions should not go unnoticed as they have been setting up the game for the spin trio to follow. India knows they can’t take any opponent lightly. That is not how they have built the reputation of being the team to beat in the subcontinent. And they will be tested in the second Test too.
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