Gill’s Debut? Saha Not Pant? Talking Points Ahead of Adelaide Test

Gill looked assured and was watchful without missing out on chances to show off his elegant strokes during his 65.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read
India begin their four-match Test series against Australia in Adelaide. 
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India’s preparations for the Australia Test series started off on a far from ideal note with injuries being the biggest cause of concern for the management. And by far the most talked about area of concern has been the opening partnership, especially in the first half of the series.

However, if anything, a confident middle order and a bowling attack that seems to have it’s rhythm in place are among the positives ahead of India’s first Day/Night Test away from home in Adelaide.

The touring party have had a couple of warm-up games, one with the pink ball as well in Sydney, in the lead up to the Tests.

Here’s a look at the talking points ahead of the Adelaide Test:

Shubman Gill Makes His Case for Debut

The tall right-handed batsman has looked comfortable and quite secure in terms of his batting so far on the tour, whether it be limited overs or warm-up games.

In both the knocks at the SCG in the second warm up game, Gill looked assured and was watchful without missing out on chances to show off his elegant strokes during his 65. It was the kind of innings typically associated with the Punjab youngster, who is known to have the stomach to play the long innings.

Has he done enough to get the nod for Adelaide? He probably has enough going in his favour considering recent form and the fact that Prithvi Shaw is woefully out of form currently.

Saha or Pant?

Wriddhiman Saha is no doubt the better gloveman in the conversation and also played a gritty knock in the first warm-up game to save India A from an embarrassing defeat.

On the other hand, Pant, who’s been out of form and low on confidence, got his mojo back with a brisk century in the second warm-up game.

An innings like Pant’s in a Test match can go a long way in helping turn the tide for his side but in the Day/Night Test, where the ball is expected to do more things than usual, but the likelihood is that Saha will get the nod.

Solid Middle Order

Through the course of both the warm-up games, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari have both dug in and batted long hours for their centuries.

Rahane and Vihari will no doubt be confident of their abilities going into Adelaide which augurs well for India. Cheteshwar Pujara also scored a half century and ground it out in the first warm-up game before being cleaned up by a peach by Michael Nesser for a duck in the second innings, a rarity.

Along with the three is Virat Kohli, who in his last appearance on the tour will no doubt look to make a big difference and help India start off well.

Going into the Test series, the Indian middle order looks to be in the good touch, with each one of them having scored runs so far on this tour. However, the quality of the bowling will be very different and patience, as was the case in 2018/19, will be key for all four.

Umesh Yadav for 3rd Seamer’s Spot

While Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj are very exciting talents breaking through the ranks to add to India’s already impressive pace battery, senior pro Umesh Yadav is likely to get the nod behind Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami in Adelaide.

For quite a few seasons, Umesh has been comfortable bowling long spells in difficult conditions in first class and Test cricket and in Australia, the management will need him to do the same again.

Australia’s batting unit is far more able than before with the likes of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne able to drop anchor and bat long hours, which is when the likes of Umesh will come in handy.

What further tilts the scales in the experienced bowler’s way, never mind the conversation Ian Chappell had with Ravi Shastri over a drink, is that Siraj and Saini were expensive against Australia A in Sydney, against batsmen who are definitely not first choice for Australia.

The extra weeks and the two warm-up games India have managed to play before the Test series can only hold them in good stead, especially because it has provided the Test specialists important game time as they get set for their first international outing since the series against New Zealand earlier in the year.

The task on hand is daunting but if the warm-up game indicators are anything to go by, one can expect India to pack quite the punch in Adelaide. Will it be enough?

The preparations in the opposition camp have been far from ideal too as Justin Langer has been forced into a few personnel changes due to injury and concussions, leaving the side in a spot of bother in terms of balance.

Gimme hope Jo'anna!

Predicted XI: Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami

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