From colours to whites: On Indian cricket sporting a new look

Bilateral Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) are often deemed an after-thought, added as an appendage to Tests and ODIs. The hype and the arc lights are reserved for glamorous domestic T20 championships like the Indian Premier League (IPL) or the Big Bash. But since this is a year that features the ICC Twenty20 World Cup later in Australia, teams need matches under their belt as part of the build-up. The recently concluded T20I series between India and South Africa fits into this template even if the climax under whimsical Bengaluru skies ensured a stalemate at 2-2. Trailing 0-2 after the first two encounters, India did well to win the next two and draw level before rains threw a damp curtain in the last fixture at Bengaluru with just 3.3 overs being bowled. Essentially India was not with its first-choice squad as captain Rohit Sharma and former skipper Virat Kohli were rested after a poor run in the IPL. The duo is in England along with a few other players, training for the fifth Test of last year’s series that paused after four clashes following a COVID-19 scare. To make it worse for India, K.L. Rahul, appointed interim skipper, was also ruled out with an injury, and Rishabh Pant had to step into the hot seat against the visiting South Africans.

Temba Bavuma’s men fired in the initial games. Be it a healthy 211 in Delhi or a meagre 148 in Cuttack, the Proteas chased without fuss and India having rested spearhead Jasprit Bumrah for the series, failed to stem the flow of runs. Fortunes changed at Visakhapatnam with India defending 179 for five as its bowlers found their restrictive zones. Parity was restored at Rajkot with India seizing the contest by 82 runs. Seen as a dress rehearsal for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, this series was an opportunity to test both youngsters and seasoned players. Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya did well while Ruturaj Gaikwad and Shreyas Iyer could have done better. Dinesh Karthik, at 37, blitzed a strike rate of 158.62. Among the bowlers, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had their moments. Pant was middling with the bat, perhaps captaincy weighed him down. Coach Rahul Dravid and the selectors have got a few pointers about the T20 national squad. Meanwhile it is time to slip on the whites for the pending fifth Test against England at Birmingham from July 1. India leads at 2-1 but much water has flowed down the Thames. The visitor has a new captain and coach in the Rohit-Dravid combine while on the opposite side, Ben Stokes has taken over from Joe Root. Change is in the air.

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2022 10:30:35 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/from-colours-to-whites-on-indian-cricket-sporting-a-new-look/article65548997.ece