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Its time for Staurt Binny and co. to graduate from bits and pieces cricketers to the next level © Getty Images

Since the days of Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri and Roger Binny, India have suffered a dearth of genuine all-rounders. In 2010, when India rose to No. 1 in Test cricket, the team had only one cricketer who could perform dual duties — MS Dhoni. However, thanks to the presence of classy and experienced players, the scarcity hadn’t affected that Indian team as much as the present team, which is going through a transition period. Sandipan Banerjee looks at the vulnerability of current all-rounders in Virat Kohli’s team.

The ongoing tour of Sri Lanka has been quite fruitful for the Virat Kolhi-led, young Indian team. They have ticked most of the boxes despite losing the first Test. It was just a couple of bad sessions at Galle that cost them the match. They showed character in the next Test and bounced back strongly with a commanding performance. However, one area in which the team is lacking consistently is the lack of significant contributions from the ‘aspiring all-rounders”. READ: What to expect from the Virat Kohli era of Indian cricket!

Stuart Binny, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha — these are the three cricketers, in this team, who are expected to perform dual duties. Among them, barring Saha, no one has made major dual contribution in this series so far. Ashwin has been exceptional with the ball but of late, with bat in hand, he is not getting the runs which is expected of him. This vulnerability will be exposed further, as Saha is forced out of the final Test with an injury and debutant Naman Ojha is set to take his place. READ: Time for Wriddhiman Saha to detach the ‘Bengali-boy’ out of him

The Indian team management are very much aware of the limitations of their all-rounders. Before the start of second Test, Ravi Shastri, the team director, mentioned that India were going into the game with “four and a half” bowlers. With the word ‘half’ he tried to sum up Binny’s bowling capabilities.

With all due respect to this Karnataka cricketer, he falls in the category of a ‘bits and pieces’ cricketer, at least at the Test level. With ball in hand, he can hold one end up, with tight line and length. Any wicket from him is a bonus for the team. He is more of a batting all-rounder. Apart from his match-saving innings in his debut Test at Trent Bridge, Binny hasn’t contributed significantly with bat. He doesn’t yet belong to the club of Ben Stokes, Shakib al Hasan, Mitchell Marsh or even Angelo Mathews.

Next in the list of India’s potential all-rounders is Ashwin, who has been the best bowler of this series by some distance. It  is well known that Ashwin is a more than a decent batsman. In fact, in overseas conditions, Ashwin has been regarded as a better batsman than bowler. However, since the last few series, his batting dipped a bit. His last half century was in the New Year Test at Sydney earlier this year.

Ravichandran Ashwin has been India's best bowler in the series, but of late his batting suffered a bit © Getty Images
Ravichandran Ashwin has been India’s best bowler in the series, but of late his batting suffered a bit © Getty Images

Ashwin’s USP of batting has been his calmness and determination to stay at the crease. The opponents have to earn his wicket. But of late, Ashwin is getting out trying to force the issue, to play expensive shots, which is not at all his game. For a long time, Ashwin has been groomed as a future No. 6 batsman in the Test team but after this inconsistency, a few eyebrows are bound to be raised.

India’s long time ‘shadow Wicketkeeper’ Saha is another member of this list. This has been his first major series as India’s first choice wicketkeeper since MS Dhoni’s retirement, and he has utilised his chances before being ruled out. Though his keeping was not at its best in the first Test, he put up an improved show at Colombo. Also, two crucial fifty-plus scores in four innings would have silenced his critics for a bit. However, there are areas for improvement; vulnerability still exists.

Wriddhiman Saha utilised his chances before being unfortunately ruled out of the series © Getty Images
Wriddhiman Saha utilised his chances before being unfortunately ruled out of the series © Getty Images

The Madhya Pradesh wicketkeeper Ojha is likely to make his debut in the third and series deciding Test. So, there will be a pressure of performance and the Sri Lankan team is very much aware of this. They will try to expose the susceptibility of the Indian lower order.

India are scheduled to play important series in near future and the sooner these ‘potential all-rounders’ graduate from bits and pieces to the next level,  the smoother the transition period of this young team will be.

(Sandipan Banerjee is a reporter at CricketCountry. Cricket has been the biggest passion for him since his childhood. So, when it came to choosing his career, he chose to turn his passion into his profession. Apart from cricket he likes mountain trekking, river rafting, and photography. His twitter handle is @im_sandipan)