What Can Team India Takeaway From Their All-Round Display Against Cricket Australia XI?

Team India have made the best possible start to their tour of Australia, as the Virat Kohli-led Indian Test side has given a good account of itself in all departments of the game against Cricket Australia XI in the first of the two 2-day tour games before the all important 4-match Test series against the Kangaroos kick starts in Brisbane next Thursday. Albeit the game ended in a draw, with the visitors reaching 363/8 from 91 overs on the second and final day of the match, Kohli and company will be mighty pleased with their all-round display in the very first outing of the tour.

The home side had won the toss and chose to bat on Day 1 of the 2-day tour game against the visiting Indians at the Gilderol stadium in Adelaide. The Indian medium pace attack led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar scuttled them out for a paltry 219 in what was a grassy pitch to start off with, thereby giving the Indian batsmen a good 16 overs to bat on Day 1 of the game. The UP seamer finished with figures of 2-32, but the standout performer was Varun Aaron who, despite being expensive, took 3-72 and bowled with the same vigor and pace that we’ve come to expect from the 25-year old. Mohamed Shami, Karn Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin shared the other 5 wickets between them, and such a bowling display shouldn’t go undermined regardless of the opponents and the nature of the surface that was on offer for the Indian bowlers.

India tour of Australia 2014-15
Murali Vijay was one of 5 Indian batsmen to notch up half-centuries in the 2-day match against CA XI

Following an inspiring display with the ball, the Indian batsmen — Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara, primarily — took the team total to 55 for the loss of Shikhar Dhawan who continues to remain a shadow of the batsman he is, at home. Both Vijay and Pujara stroked to 51 and 55, respectively, before retiring out and giving other Indian batsmen the chance to get a feel of things. Kohli consumed the most number of deliveries by an Indian batsman, as the Delhi stroke-maker occupied the crease for 114 deliveries and made 60 runs in the process. Ajinkya Rahane, like Dhawan, missed out, and his Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma didn’t score too many either, as the highest Individual scorer in ODI cricket made 23 from 46 balls, leaving India in a spot of bother at 5 down for 178. Suresh Raina, though, put on a 55-run stand with the skipper Kohli, as the UP batsman scored a quickfire 44 from 48 deliveries. Wriddhiman Saha was another Indian batsman who scored a half-century, with Karn Sharma, too, proving his credentials with the bat as the Railways leg-spinner notched up 52 off 54 balls, taking India to 8-363 from 91 overs at the end of the day’s play — an effort that would delight the touring party.

However, what could be the takeaways from a solid display in the first tour game for Team India?

How will Ishant Sharma fit into this bowling setup?

Team India played with 4 genuine bowlers, 1 all-rounder in Ashwin, 1 wicket-keeper and 5 pure batsmen. Ishant Sharma for some reason didn’t feature for the visitors and, with the perception that the lanky seamer from Delhi will spearhead this Indian pace attack, it remains an enigma as to how the Indian team management can accommodate him into the Indian playing XI as Aaron continues to impress following his decent exploits in the Tests against England in England, with Shami and Bhuvneshwar being certainties in India’s bowling scheme of things. He could come in place of Karn Sharma, as the conditions in Australia don’t require India to play two spinners. But the big question is whether Team India are bold enough to go into the Brisbane Test match with 4 fast bowlers, and Ashwin as the solitary spinner?

Will KL Rahul be a mere spectator, despite Dhawan’s continued failures?

It took the Indian think tank 3 Tests in England, before injecting the then backup opener Gautam Gambhir in place of Dhawan, albeit the backup opener failed to flatter, scoring a meager 25 runs in the 4 innings he got to bat in, at both Oval and Old Trafford. For the tour of Australia, however, KL Rahul has gone with the Indian team as its backup opener, but with excess of trust placed on Dhawan by the Indian team management, it remains to be seen whether the Karnataka opener, who made 1158 runs in the 2013 Ranji season and deservedly getting a call up to the national side, gets a go alongside Vijay, who has sealed a opening spot for himself in the Indian Test side for the foreseeable future.

Performance in tour games hardly ever matters; all the more reason Team India got to remain focused!

Yes, Team India are off to a good start to their tour of Australia, which also includes the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, with a good all-round display against the Cricket Australia XI. But this performance will mean close-to-nothing, when India take on Australia in Brisbane on December 4th. The quality of the Australian pace attack led by Mitchell Johnson, an infuriatingly long Australian batting lineup for the Indian bowlers to contend with and a very inexperienced looking Indian side (Of the current squad, only Kohli, MS Dhoni, Ashwin, Umesh Yadav and Ishant have played before in Australia), means India have an arduous task on their hands to reign supreme.

Bottom Line: Team India can be very satisfied with their individual showings in the first tour game against Cricket Australia XI, but Kohli, Duncan Fletcher and co. need no reminding that they have things to sort out, as noted by the aforementioned trio of takeaways, before they can go into the first Test match at the Gabba, with a good chance of winning against a pretty good looking Australian outfit at home.

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