What’s the story?
Virat Kohli has heaped praise on stand-in-skipper Ajinkya Rahane for preferring five bowlers in the final Test against Australia at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. The 28-year old also asserted that Kuldeep Yadav’s inclusion played a key role in India winning the series decider and regaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
At the end of match press conference, Kohli revealed, “Before this game, I told Rahane this is his Test. He said he wanted five bowlers in the team. Kuldeep was our X factor, it was a great call (to include him in the playing eleven).”
He added, “(We are) happy with the number one Test ranking but overseas cycle will be our next challenge. (We) will have bigger smiles when we do well there.”
After going in with their preferred policy of five bowlers in Pune, India found that their batting lineup was weakened on a rank turner and went on to suffer a 333-run defeat. Upon moving along to the six batsmen theory in the Bengaluru Test, the hosts notched up a 75-run victory. The third Test in Ranchi saw them continue their conservative strategy. However, the absence of an extra bowler dented their chances of forcing a result on a batting-friendly pitch.
The heart of the matter
With everything to play for in the series decider in Dharamsala, India reinforced their bowling attack by reverting to their usual team combination. A spot in the batting lineup opened up through Kohli’s shoulder injury. Despite possessing a reserve batsman at their disposal in the form of Shreyas Iyer, they replaced their regular skipper with chinaman exponent Kuldeep Yadav.
The uncapped left-arm spinner turned out to be the home side’s trump card. Coming into bowl at a time when the Australian batsmen were motoring along at a rapid clip, Kuldeep brought his team back into the contest by picking up a flurry of wickets. With the visitors restricted in their first innings, India were able to eke out a handy lead which eventually proved to be crucial in their eight-wicket victory.
Having regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, India now hold all nine Test trophies at the same time. After a slew of white-ball games, they will return to the Test scene when a 3-match series starts in Sri Lanka at the end of July.
For the final clash, India could have played it safe by continuing their four-bowler combination. Even though the Dharamsala surface was identified to be a bowler-friendly one, they were intent on taking the attack to Australia. In the end, their gamble with the fifth bowler Kuldeep paid off and the long home season culminated in a euphoric triumph.
Virat Kohli in PC: Before game, told Rahane this is his Test. He said he wanted 5 bowlers. Kuldeep was X factor, was a great call. #INDvAUS— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) March 28, 2017
This is a reward for aggressive team selection. Big factor in the series to go in with five bowlers in Dharamsala— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 28, 2017