India are widely expected to perform better than the Tests in the one-dayers in England, and they began rather impressively with the victory at Cardiff. Considering England’s weaknesses in the format, many, including skipper Alastair Cook, have termed India as favourites to win the one-day series. If they actually do well enough to win the one-dayers, it will be big fillip to the side, particularly after the pounding in the Tests. But, a good showing in the shorter formats should not dwarf India’s lack of coherence, which is very likely to happen. If indeed Test matches are no longer India’s priority, the country’s future in the game is heading in a disastrous direction.
In the aftermath of yet another away debacle, it is imperative for the selectors to take some stern decisions. They cannot adopt a laidback approach thinking that the home series against West Indies in October will give the team a great chance to get back to form. The challenge against the West Indies will definitely be a lot easier for the Indians, but things will not be too different when they head Down Under during the end of the year. Thus, they seriously need to make some harsh moves in the series against West Indies itself.
Firstly, a choice on the skipper must be made. Enough has been said about the lack of options for India as far as a new leader is concerned. It is not a good enough rationale to continue with a skipper who hasn’t delivered for more than three years now. He can obviously stay on in the one-day and T20 format, but in Tests, India need a change. After all under him, they have lost 4-0 and 3-1 in England, 4-0 in Australia and 1-0 each in South Africa and New Zealand as well. No other skipper in international skipper has been given such a long rope.
As for options, what’s the harm in trying out Virat Kohli? After all, he was being looked up as a suitable replacement to MS Dhoni before his form deserted him in England. Just because he had terrible times in England should not be enough for him to be kept away from the post of leadership. Form, after all, is temporary, and can be regained with one good innings. Also, who knows, the additional burden of responsibility might just aid him in shifting another gear in his batsmanship. And, if he manages to get back to the top of his batting form again, it will be a major positive for India.
Also, if they do not want to risk Kohli for his lack of form, they have options like Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay, who have cemented their spots in the Test team. It can be argued that both are still too raw for the job. Then again, they can be tested only when they are thrown into the deep sea. Guys like Graeme Smith, Stephen Fleming and, for that matter, even Hansie Cronje, were handed over the leadership at a young age, and achieved significant success. The time has come for India to turn over a new leaf in their Test cricket history.
--By A Cricket Analyst