Before the India-New Zealand series begun, all eyes were on the Indian youngsters as it was the new look Indian team that was supposed to take on the Kiwis. Two batting power-houses of Indian cricket--Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman retired after the Australian tour and cricket fans were a bit nervous seeing the young look of the Indian team.
It was a test for the youngsters. Now the series is over and India as expected won both the matches and the biggest plus point for Indian team was that almost all their youngsters passed their most difficult test with flying colours. It was a brilliant sight to see the young men shouldering responsibility with the senior pros and bettering the performance put up by the Indian cricketing giants.
It is true that New Zealand, who are ranked number eighth in the ICC Test rankings, is not a difficult team and there will be people who will rubbish the youngsters’ performance but one thing should be noted that young batsmen were playing against the same ‘week’ Kiwi attack that troubled the experienced pros. In both Indian wins, it was the young brigade who played a decisive role. There was a huge worry that Indian team will crumble once the senior retires, but going by the way these young players played it looks like a question to which India has a pretty good answer to.
Let’s have a look in detail about how the young players performed in the two match Test series.
Virat Kohli: He had been in the form of his life coming into the tournament. Virat was virtually unstoppable in the shorter formats and people expected big things from him in the longer version as well. Kohli struggled in his initial Test innings, but came back with strong performances in Australia. Kohli was the only batsman from India to cross the three figure mark in Australia. Among the young Indian batsmen, highest expectations were from this talented youngster and Kohli did not disappoint. In the first match he scored important 58 runs in the lone innings. But, it was the Bangalore Test that witnessed Kohli’s best. India were in a precarious situation and Kohli came up with a wonderful hundred. He held the innings together in the second innings and scored an unbeaten 51. He finished the series with 212 at an average of 106.
Cheteshwar Pujara: Pujara was brought into the team to bat at the position which was owned by Rahul Dravid for 16 years. Pujara has always been considered as a suitable replacement for Dravid and Pujara made sure that the comparisons were not vague. Pujara, who missed out his Test place because of injury, scored a tremendous 159 in his comeback Test. He played a calculated innings and it looked that he owned the position. Even in India’s run-chase in the second match, Pujara scored a handy 48. He finished the series as the highest run-scorer with 216 runs at an average of 72.
Ravichandran Ashwin: Ashwin was under tremendous pressure coming into the series as his performance in Australia was bad. With Harbhajan making a comeback in the T20 squad, it looked that Ashwin had to make a strong statement to stop Harbhajan replacing him in the Test squad. With 18 wickets in two Test matches Ashwin ensured that the wait is not over for Harbhajan. Ashwin took three five-wicket haul in four innings and troubled almost all the Kiwi batsmen. The best thing about Ashwin’s bowling was the control and variation he showed. He was suitably awarded man of the series award for his contribution.
Pragyan Ojha: He has been the second spinner for India for a long time and needed a special performance to put his name in front. Dhoni always preferred Ashwin over him in situations where the team fielded three pacers. This was the opportunity for Ojha and he grabbed it with both hands. Ojha bowled some tremendous spells and showed his class. He finished with 13 wickets from two matches. The best part about his bowling was the way he deceived the Kiwi batsmen in flight.
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By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network