bhuvneshwar kumar and jasprit bumrah
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (L) and Jasprit Bumrah

Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar is surprised at the selectors’ decision to give rest to leading India pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah for the two-Test series against West Indies at home that gets underway from Thursday.

As per Gavaskar, resting top players from Tests is detrimental to the health of the format and if BCCI wanted to give them a break, it should have been done for the limited-overs.

“India resting both Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah is a surprise, for it shows that Test matches don’t seem to matter for the selectors,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for The Times of India on Wednesday. Were both the bowlers asked if they wanted a break? If a break has to be given do that in the limited overs internationals, but not Test cricket, for if Test cricket is to survive it needs the best players available all the time.”

Gavaskar, however, added that their absence of first-choice pacers provides an opportunity for the Test newbies – Shardul Thakur and Mohammad Siraj to prove themselves. “Their absence gives a chance for Shardul Thakur and Mohammad Siraj to show what they are capable of and try and cement their places for the tour to Australia,” he wrote.

During their last visit to India for a Test series, West Indies suffered a 2-0 whitewash that saw them suffering two innings defeat in Kolkata and Mumbai. Across their four innings, West Indies managed to cross 200 runs just once in a poor batting show.

Gavaskar reckons that the current team led by Jason Holder is much stronger than the one in 2013 and the series won’t be a cakewalk for India unless they dish our turning tracks.

“Be that as it may, this West Indian team is a lot stronger than the one that toured India five years back for the farewell series for Sachin Tendulkar,” Gavaskar, 69, said. “The West Indian batting despite the absence of some T20 stars is a solid one and if the pitch at Rajkot is the usual flat one, then the Indian spinners may not find it easy to dismiss them as easily as they did in 2013. (Kraigg) Brathwaite, (Kieran) Powell, Shai Hope, Sunil Ambris are attractive stroke players and Jason Holder down the order is a tough customer to remove. On a pitch that turns, they may find it a lot harder but going by past experience both the Tests are being played on pitches where the ball doesn’t turn from day one.”

The first Test starts from Thursday in Rajkot whole the second match is scheduled to be hosted by Hyderabad from October 12. Gavaskar expects Windies pacers to come good in the second Test. “If anything, the pitch at Hyderabad has a fair carry that should help the West Indian pacers especially Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach (if he is fit). Both have been bowling with hostility and have rocked batsmen even on the now slow pitches in the Caribbean and the West Indians will be hoping that they do so here again,” he said.

Gavaskar also isn’t happy with India playing a two-match series saying that leaves a big chance of the series ending in a draw in the absence of a decider. “A two-match series after a series involving five Tests makes little sense, but then international schedules today are so tight that it’s tough to fit in the number of games that a cricket lover wants. Ideally, a three-match series gives both teams a chance to win than a series involving two Tests where honours could be even if both win one each and no third game left to decide who the winner is” Gavaskar observed.