Prithvi Shaw marked his arrival on the big stage in style. Umesh Yadav achieved a rare feat of an Indian pacer claiming a ten-for on home soil. Rishabh Pant sealed the wicket-keeper’s slot with two 90s with the willow. And India extended its winning run at home to 10 series on the trot since 2013. Still, the two-Test contest – a virtual no-contest, for that matter — between India and Windies (West Indies cricket glory has even literally become a thing of the past now with the rechristening of the team) can still be touted as a case of missed opportunities for all the stakeholders.
The visiting team, the BCCI and even the Indian team failed to make the most of India’s only home Test series of the season.
First, the Windies. Barring the exception of Jason Holder, the captain continued rise his reputation of a genuine all-rounder in the only Test he featured in, and Roston Chase, the rest of the visiting cricketers didn’t take anything back from the fortnight they spent in India. It appeared that not only did the Windies cricketers were overawed by playing against the fancied Indians, they miserably lacked in terms of skill-set required to even compete in the sub-continental conditions. That both the Tests lasted merely three days is a testimony to the fact and the fans and the broadcaster alike would be hoping that the limited overs’ specialists will put up a much better show in the next four weeks.
Over to BCCI. It had already bowed down to the veto of the Indian team management and withdrawn the proposal of playing a pink-ball Test in Rajkot. Moreover, had the BCCI chosen better venues than Rajkot and Hyderabad, perhaps like Mohali and Dharamsala, the Indian team could have actually been able to play in conditions similar to the ones it is likely to encounter in Australia in the next big overseas challenge. With the international calendar having been decided well in advance, the Indian team and administrators knew that the series would be the only opportunity to test the bench-strength ahead of the challenge Down Under. Yes, the BCCI follows a rotation policy for allotting international matches, but haven’t we witnessed the policy being tweaked multiple times in the past!
To a lot of extent, even the Indian team management didn’t make the most of the chances by trying out more players and combinations. Yes, the conditions were nowhere close to what it would encounter in Australia. But India fielded three spinners in each of the two Tests against a mediocre opposition. No way is India going to stick to the same combination Down Under. With a beleaguered opposition, even if India had tried an extra pacer in both the Tests, the result wouldn’t have been much different.
More importantly, with India having dropped both its first-choice openers over the last couple of months, the team management may have given both the new faces at the top of the order — Shaw and Mayank Agarwal a look in before the Australia tour. Instead, the management preferred not to hand Agarwal a debut. Add to that the inconsistent run K.L. Rahul, who has suddenly been elevated as the senior-most opener, has been having and it makes case for alarm bells to ring even before leaving for Australia.
The objectives may not be achieved but with yet another clean slate achieved and the Dussehra fast approaching, India can hope for Seemolanghan — crossing the territory — on a high.