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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Silver Lining for India from the Perth Test

There is a silver lining to India's drubbing at Perth. Believe me, there is!

Though trounced comprehensively, in half the time allocated for the Perth test match, India managed to cement two special building blocks for the future of their test resurrection.

The onsite selection panel need to be congratulated for persisting with Virat Kohli, despite the string of four failures. Kohli top scored in both the rather modest Indian innings. But more importantly, he played through tough periods, showed good temperament, concentrated hard and applied himself. He handled his examination by the relentless Australian pace battery rather well, never missing a scoring opportunity and rotating the strike routinely. Kohli repaid the selectors trust, demonstrating the qualities of a test batsman. He put up a fight, and looked more comfortable than any other Indian batsman through the match.

Rahul Dravid played hard, but looked jumpy and was uncertain of his footwork. The brilliant technique, which set benchmarks for batsmen the world over, was conspicuously absent. For the fifth time in six innings he was castled. When batting alongside Kohli, it was Dravid who looked under pressure and uneasy by comparison.

The other positive outcome for India from the Perth test was the arrival of Umesh Yadav. We know he can work up a pace and he has been amongst the wickets a few times already. Perth announced his arrival as a combative, intelligent, quick learning seamer. 

Despite the amazing Warner knock, and his match defining opening stand with Cowan, India managed to get ten Australian wickets for 220 runs on day two. A feat not accomplished by India for a while. Thanks to some brilliant and consistent line and length, Yadav was rewarded with a well deserved five wicket haul. He showed that he had learnt, adjusted his length, applied himself with patience and consistency. He looked positively menacing. 

I believe the test baptism of Kohli and Yadav is now complete.

India have another important opportunity at Adelaide, to continue the rebuilding process of the test team. With Dhoni handed a one match ban by the ICC, Saha will get his test debut. It is most definitely time to rest Laxman and allow Rohit Sharma his long awaited break. Adelaide being the best batting track in Australia, it will be advisable to play with the two spinners, Ashwin and Ojha. Vinay and Ishant must make way. This also reduces the length of the tail, thanks to Ashwin's ability with the bat.

The journey of rebuilding is never easy, but will most certainly be exciting. Undoubtedly there will be calls of a complete rethink and restructure. India might do well to study the cricket structures of England and Australia, to glean ideas that may work. 

My final point is really a plea to the BCCI, to allow the senior Indian players the required grace and dignity, in the winter of their long and honourable careers as servants of Indian cricket. Press stories like the one about VVS Laxman in the Times of India yesterday are definitely not the way to sunset a glowing career.  

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