Virat Kohli and Wriddiman Saha justify the need for the inclusion of young blood

Virat Kohli (left) and Wriddhiman Saha proved that there were no demons waiting to be exorcised in the pitch at the Adelaide Oval © Getty Images


By Karthik Parimal


There has been a lot of hue and cry in the past few months concerning the need for the infusion of young blood in the Indian side after consecutive and humiliating defeats against Australia exposed India’s ageing stalwarts. Many believed that if India is losing, it makes sense to lose by blooding youngsters with a future. The cricket fraternity held no punches back while emphasising the need for fresh minds and legs out there in the middle if India wanted to better its results from hereon.


Justifying the above point was the refreshing approach of two very able youngsters in the form of Virat Kohli and Wriddhiman Saha in the post-lunch session on Thursday. They underlined the importance of being positive when the chips were down and seemed to have an uncluttered mind.


It was heart-warming to see these two youngsters put up a fight when the rest around them failed. The Adelaide Oval pitch is usually viewed as a batsman’s paradise and yet the rest of the Indian batsmen remained unsuccessful in their quest to score big. Kohli and Saha proved that there were no demons waiting to be exorcised in that pitch. If only the top order had exhibited a little more responsibility, the situation would have been a lot different.


Sourav Ganguly, who has had a lot to say throughout this series, was right when he opined, “The batting unit has struggled throughout the series, but this effort must be really worrying to the players. One can argue the wickets in the past Test matches had a lot more seam movement and it wasn’t easy, but this was an absolute belter.”


It was good to see Kohli belting the Australian attack in the session after lunch. Saha, too, was impressive, considering the fact that this was just his second outing in Tests. It appeared as if both these players were oblivious to the collapse that occurred before they walked out to bat. That is how the approach from every Indian batsman should have been right throughout the series. They proved that India’s problems were not in the pitch but because of their own paucity of confidence. Hunger to succeed is what youngsters like Kohli and Saha can get to this Indian side.


The way Kohli batted, with the axe hanging over his head, was commendable. He sure has got the monkey off his back by reaching that coveted three-figure landmark in Tests. He was in the news for all the wrong reasons until recently, but let his bat do the talking this time around. As is the case in all important things we try to achieve in life, success or failure boils down to just one word – attitude. And Kohli certainly had the right attitude that was backed with undying grit. With that knock, Kohli overtook Sachin Tendulkar to become India’s leading run-getter in this series.


Another classy player who was touted to be the right replacement for Kohli during his recent slump was Rohit Sharma. Unfortunately, Rohit continues to be sidelined, albeit possessing an attitude and determination similar to that of Kohli. His performances in the domestic and first-class matches have been impressive, to say the least. In spite of that, he’s been made to warm the benches. This exposes him to the danger of losing his impressive form due to lack of on-field action, and he may have to start right from the scratch again.


Being a reserve player for a considerably long period of time despite having given it all may not augur well sometimes. Wayne Holdsworth of Australia was one such player who completely lost track after he was stung by his non-selection in the playing eleven during the 1993 Ashes tour despite having performed tremendously well for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield just before that. Holdsworth’s performance further deteriorated owing to discouragement and he never played a Test thereafter. The intention here is not to sound dramatic, but to underline the risks involved in neglecting capable youngsters for long periods of time.


Youngsters like Kohli, Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh Yadav have all shown how effective they can be at one point or another. Ashwin and Yadav are most certainly the future of India’s bowling attack that in all likelihood will be led by Ishant Sharma. It’s the batting department that deserves immediate attention. Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Abhinav Mukund, Ajinkya Rahane all deserve ample opportunities if India is to once again dominate in the Test arena. Indian cricket will have to take this leap of faith and believe that these youngsters are capable of delivering. For that, they will have to be groomed at the right time, and that right time is now.


The stalwarts have contributed immensely to Indian cricket, but it’s time to get in young and resilient players capable of delivering like Kohli and Saha did in the first innings of this fourth Test. Getting in youngsters right after this series and persisting with them will give Indian cricket the much needed stability and results in due course of time. The last thing India would want to do now is to waste its precious bench strength.


(If cricket is a religion and has many devotees, Karthik Parimal would be a primary worshipper. This 23 year old graduate student, pursuing his Masters in Engineering, could be an appropriate example of how the layers of what inspires, motivates and keeps one happy run deeply in our daily lives. He, unlike others, is not too disappointed about not making it big by playing for the country, but believes that he plays the sport every day with his heart by watching and writing on it)