Tour matches do not assume a lot of significance as they are just for the visiting team to get some practice and a feel of the conditions. But, when it comes to India, they take these warm-up matches very seriously, for they have struggled to impress in these inconsequential games as well, forget the proper international matches. This is exactly why they should be pleased with their effort in the two-day opening warm-up tie against Cricket Australia XI at Adelaide. Players in both the batting and bowling department shone over the course of two days.
India bowled first in the game, and all the bowlers ended up among the wickets. In spite of the weakness of the opposition, it was an effort that would hearten the Indian camp. Varun Aaron was the most impressive of all bowlers picking up three wickets. With his raw pace and slippery action, he troubled the opponents, and staked claim for a spot in the Brisbane Test. He, however, needs to make sure that he stays fit even if he is picked. Often in the recent past, Indian fast bowlers have gone into a game high on confidence, but have been able to do much owing to injury problems.
Among the others, both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami finished with two wickets each. Over the last two seasons, these two bowlers have led the Indian attack, with moderate success at various times. While Shami had a sensational debut at home against the West Indies, he hasn’t quite been able to carry on the good work away from home. He was extremely poor in the England series. Kumar, on the other hand, was India’s best bowler in England, with two five-wicket hauls. However, his limitations came to the fore as the series got longer. Both would be under the scanner in Australia.
In the spin department, the performance of Karn Sharma will give the Indian camp a lot of confidence to pick him in the starting eleven at Brisbane. Although it would be his Test debut, and Ravichandran Ashwin is the senior spinner, India shouldn’t hesitate to pick the leggie ahead of Ashwin. After all, even in the warm-up game at Adelaide, Sharma was the more impressive of the two slow bowlers. He was successful in keeping a check on the batsmen with his variations, and also starred with the bat, smashing a fluent half-century. Ashwin, on the other hand, claimed one wicket and was average.
India tasted plenty of success in the batting department as well. Apart from Karn Sharma, four other proper batsmen also registered half-centuries. At the top of the order, Murali Vijay made a breezy half-century. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, both of whom had a torrid time in England, also kicked off the tour with impressive starts. Down the order, wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha also registered a fifty while Suresh Raina fell just short of one. Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane were the only ones to miss out. All in all, a fruitful beginning.
--By A Cricket Analyst