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The Importance of Batting Depth in Indian Cricket
‘Batting depth’ has become a crucial factor in Indian cricket across all formats in recent years. The team management now prefers to have more depth in batting, opting for batting/bowling all-rounders over specialists, especially at the number eight slot. Even in the ongoing series against England, the trio of spinners – Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel – have all played together due to their batting prowess.
However, things have become challenging in the England series. The Indian spinners have underperformed in their own den, much to everyone’s surprise. With Jadeja’s injury, Kuldeep Yadav had to be included in the team for the first time since December 2022 when he picked eight wickets against Bangladesh away from home.
But now, with Jadeja expected to be fit for the third Test, there is a possibility that Kuldeep might have to sit on the bench again unless India decides to take a brave decision. The reason behind playing Kuldeep would be to address Axar’s ineffectiveness, not just in the two Tests so far, but also since the start of 2023. Axar has only managed to take eight wickets in Test cricket in 11 innings, with an average of 49 and a strike-rate of almost 100. However, during the same period, Axar has scored runs at an average of over 56.
This could tilt the decision in Kuldeep’s favor, especially considering his impressive performance in Visakhapatnam, where he took four wickets and appeared more in control with the ball compared to Axar. If Jadeja is fit, it is evident that India will choose to play either Axar or Kuldeep, alongside two seamers like Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, unless the pitch demands the inclusion of four spinners.
The management faces a selection puzzle in this scenario. Considering the situation and the pitches so far, it is advisable for India to be brave and opt for Kuldeep, as he is a more wicket-taking option on unresponsive pitches.
In conclusion, batting depth has become crucial for Indian cricket, and the team management faces a tough decision regarding the selection of spinners. Kuldeep Yadav’s impressive performance and wicket-taking ability make him a strong contender, especially considering Axar Patel’s underwhelming performance with the ball. It remains to be seen whether India will take a brave or defensive approach in the upcoming Test matches.