Former India batsman WV Raman feels Virat Kohli’s side can field six specialist batters and four fast bowlers in overseas Tests provided a batsman offers a few overs of spin to maintain the balance.
“If you bolster your batting in a manner where that same restrictive 10-15 overs from either a Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin can be given by someone like Hanuma Vihari, you can stick with four pacers.
“The bulk of the wickets will be taken by the fast bowlers. If an additional player is going to fill in a few overs of spin, you could go for a batting option,” Raman said during a virtual interaction with media after India’s innings defeat in Leeds.
Asked whether India should consider playing two spinners at The Oval, a venue where spinners picked 16 of the 40 wickets in 2018, Raman said that a lot would depend on how much the pitch has been used this season and if there was moisture.
The Indian batting collapsed twice within a year in red-ball cricket. They were dismissed for 36 in Adelaide in the tour Down Under, followed by 78 at Leeds last week. The middle-order, particularly, has faced criticism for its inability to cope with the moving ball overseas. Ajinkya Rahane’s slump in form has been particularly drastic, averaging 21.06 in Tests in 2021.
However, Raman backed Rahane and said that the solution to the middle-order crisis lies in adding another batsman rather than dropping one.
“Rahane is experienced, he has played enough international cricket, he has got runs abroad. He just needs to work out the method and approach he has got to take to succeed.”
Raman added that the team management should look at the root causes and assess the deficiencies on an individual basis rather than focus on averages and runs. “Analysing numbers is not the most difficult thing. The key factor is in trying to say why a certain thing is happening and how it can be mitigated.”
The former cricketer said that batsmen could take a leaf out of the way opener KL Rahul batted in Nottingham, where he was “playing close to the body, going down the track and looking to leave the ball as much as possible”.
Speaking about Virat Kohli’s form and captaincy, Raman said that there has been a lot of pressure on the captain. “We pay a lot of attention to everything that he does. Obviously, we expect a lot from him. I would tell Virat if I was the coach to stop leading from the front and try and nudge the others from behind, lead from behind.”
The pink-ball Test
Raman, the former coach of the Indian women’s cricket team, backed the girls to challenge the Aussies in their maiden pink-ball Test assignment in Perth in September. “They don’t know what to expect in terms of the seam movement that the pink ball provides to the bowlers. Australians are a bit more aggressive than the English girls, they have quick bowlers who can bowl between 125-130 kmph,” he said.
“Most of the girls are good at playing shots in front of the wicket. But whether they have the skill sets to play the cut and pull shots will be tested. But, if any other team can challenge the Aussies and the English girls, it is our [Indian] girls,” Raman added.
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