Indian selectors will be pleased to see how a number of fringe players have performed in the three day tour game against Australia A at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). This was the second tour game that India has played in preparation for the big four match test series against Australia.
The tour game was an audition for a number of fringe players to stake their claim for a placing in the playing XI. The first test is a D/N test match that takes place on Dec 17 at the Adelaide Oval. Will the selectors pick any of these fringe players?
Let’s take a look at what these players have accomplished after 2 days of play in the tour game.
A Rahane won the toss and decided to bat first. He would have been kicking himself a couple of hours later as he saw India get bowled out for 194 in less than 50 overs. His captaincy will be under the scanner as Rahane is expected to captain the test side once V Kohli flies back to India after the first test.
The batsmen who failed in the first innings were M Agarwal (2), H Vihari (15), A Rahane (4), R Pant (5), W Saha (0). P Shaw (40) and S Gill (43) were the only two accomplished batsmen to have put on a decent score. The highest scorer for India was surprising J Bumrah who made 55 and received good support from M Siraj (22).
India fought back because their fast bowlers were able to dismiss Australia A for just 108. M Shami and N Saini looked very impressed as they each picked up 3 wickets. J Bumrah definitely looked more confident after his half century and it showed in his bowling. He picked up 2 wickets and M Siraja finished with 1.
Bumrah and Shami are likely to be automatic picks for the first test. U Yadav who did not play this game was expected to be the third fast bowler but Saini has put his hand up. If he can bowl well during the third and final day and finish with a 5 wicket haul, it will be hardfor the selectors to ignore him for the first test.
The Indian batsmen showed a lot more grit and determination in the second innings. The top order would have been embarrassed to see J Bumrah top score and got their act together in the second innings.
S Gill (65) and M Agarwal (61) spent time out in the middle but P Shaw failed (3). The big plus is H Vihar scoring 104 and showing the selectors that he can hold the middle order together. Rahane (38) got some runs under his belt.
However, it was R Pant who played a brilliant knock scoring 103 of just 73 balls to take the game away from Australia. Vihari and Pant remained unbeaten at the end of the second day’s play.
Selectors Will Favor These Players
M Agarwal is likely to open in the test matches and S Gill could very well accompany him in place of P Shaw. G Vihari should get the nod for number 6 and the fact that he can bowl a few overs of off-spin will help his case.
W Saha is the number one test keeper but given his failures with the bat, he could very overlooked in favour of the dynamic R Pant who is brilliant but unpredictable.
The selectors have learnt from the ODI and T20 series that when they get the playing XI correct, it is easier for India to win than when they get it wrong. Will they make the right selection choices for the first test? We must wait and see!