Agarwal Success Should Encourage Selectors To Play New Players

By Dhanu Delphi on October 11, 2019

South Africa had to win the toss against India in the second test if they were going to gain any advantage over a confident India team. It wasn’t to be as Virat Kohli won the toss and did not hesitate to ask South Africa to bowl. After the first day’s play, the Proteas now have bookmaker odds of 31 to win while India has odds of 1.28 with the odds of a draw set at 4.05. But India selectors might have a good problem on their hands going forward

M Agarwal Hits Another Hundred

The opening combination of Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma did not click this time around. Sharma fell for just 14 when the score was on 25. Agarwal, who scored a brilliant double century in the first test, dug his heels in and played a patient innings that helped him score another century.

The 28-year-old looked confident at the crease and hit 16 fours and 2 sixes, before getting out on 108. Agarwal, who made his debut in Melbourne in 2018, has looked very comfortable at the crease in away and home matches. His performance in the second test should encourage the selectors to continue to give more inexperienced players an opportunity to get into the test cricket side.

India Selectors Need To Blood New Players

The strong Indian batting lineup, consisting of Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, have a wealth of experience. But they are all in their early 30s. They should have another 2-3 years of cricket left in them with the exception of Kohli. The captain might have a few more.

Some of these cricketers might like to play until they are past 35. However, test cricket has shown that even the best cricketers find their performances dropping as they hit their mid-30s. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting are just a few examples.

The India selectors need to introduce new faces into the test side. This is so that they get to play with the likes of Pujara, Kohli and Rahane. This will enable young players to get test match experience under their belt. It means a big opportunity to share the crease with these experienced players.

One can credit the selectors for bringing in Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant into the test side, but one can also point out that it took them quite a long time to do so. They preferred to stick to the old guns in Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan as first-choice test openers. It is only when they failed, that the selectors thought about getting Agarwal in.

When KL Rahul failed as a test opener after multiple chances, they decided to give Rohit Sharma a chance. It paid off well in the first test as he hit back-to-back centuries. If Sharma fails when India tour New Zealand, they should think about giving the likes of Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw an opportunity to open with Agarwal.

India Selectors Must Find Balance    

It is a tough job for the selectors as they need to find the right balance between young players and experienced players. They need to pick a side that is capable of winning every test match. This is  especially with the World Test Championships points system in place.

However, they must also focus on grooming young players and having succession plans in place for both batsmen and bowlers. When it comes to the bowlers, India does have a good stock of pace bowlers. It is the spin department that they need to work.

Ravichandran Ashwin is 33 and should have, at best, another couple of years of test cricket left in him. India should work on finding another good off-spinner who can complement Ravindra Jadeja. Head coach Ravi Shastri has taken it upon himself to groom the younger generation of players coming in. So, we will have to wait and see how well things work out!