Former Australian cricketer Ian Chappell has suggested areas of improvement for the current Indian Test team while admitting that the Virat Kohli-led side is a very good all-round outfit that has proved its potential in recent times.
Chappell reckoned that in order to remain at the top, Team India needs to find the right balance, especially the middle-order. He even suggested three players that can take vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane’s place at number 5 in the Test batting line-up.
Notably, Rahane has struggled to score runs since his match-winning century in Melbourne against Australia last year. The experienced lad has been far inconsistent and has only scored 372 runs in 11 Tests at a dreadful average of 19.57 this year.
Chappell suggested the names of wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, all-rounder pair of Ravindra Jadeja, and Hardik Pandya to form a strong middle-order. He also picked Ravichandran Ashwin to balance the side perfectly.
“A middle-order that reads Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Pandya and Ashwin should provide the runs expected of that section. With three fast bowlers to follow, the batting is then supported by a versatile attack. That’s the advantage of having a strong, well-balanced attack – you don’t need huge scores to chase victory,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
The 77-year-old believed the advantage of having such middle-order is that it’s interchangeable according to match situations. Chappell felt that the trio of Pant, Jadeja, and Pandya can all bat at number five and can also come down the order as per the circumstances of a given match.
“The other good point about that middle order is that it’s interchangeable. Skill-wise, Pant is the best batter of that lot. He’s capable of restraint when the situation demands, so he could easily handle No. 5, especially when India bat first. However, if he’s had a long stint in the field, he could slide down the order to allow Jadeja to come in at five. Pandya also has the potential to handle No. 5, and given encouragement, he could fulfil the role,” added the former Aussie skipper.
The South Australian also admitted the downside of Rahane’s absence as India would lose a player with tactical inputs. But Chappell said that it could be compensated by making Rohit Sharma as vice-captain.
“The only downside would be the loss of Ajinkya Rahane’s tactical input and his slip fielding to the spinners. Nevertheless, Rohit Sharma is now an acclaimed captain, and he’s capable of handling the vice-captaincy role,” Chappell added further.