Pujara, Ashwin’s Legwork While India Played Limited-Overs Series
Since the end of the Test series against Sri Lanka in August, the Indian team has played limited-overs cricket continuously for three months.
As India racked up brilliant results in the ODI and T20 series against Australia and New Zealand, the country’s Test stars such as Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin have toiled hard in the County Championship in England and Ranji Trophy in India.
Now with the Indian team turning their focus to Tests in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, here’s a look at how the Indian players, who get picked only for the Test format, have prepared for the Test series.
1. Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara, who finished as the highest run-getter in the last Test season, went through a lean patch after the last Test against Sri Lanka. The 29-year-old notched a mere 110 runs in the 7 innings that he played for Nottinghamshire in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two.
Pujara’s luck didn’t change even when he came back to India. He recorded poor scores of 35 and 13 in his first two matches for Saurashtra against Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir respectively in the Ranji Trophy.
India’s number three batsman is certainly in the right frame of mind, entering into the Test series against Sri Lanka.
2. Ravichandran Ashwin
India’s premier off-spinner in Tests, Ravichandran Ashwin hasn’t played an international match since the third Test against Sri Lanka in August. Thereafter, he was left out of the side for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, Australia, and New Zealand.
Ashwin continued his good form in the Ranji Trophy as well. He picked up figures of 4/71 in the first innings of the match against Andhra. The Chennai bowler had two quiet matches against Tripura and Mumbai.
3. Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja didn’t play an official match for over two months. After bagging the man of the match award in the second Test against Sri Lanka, the all-rounder was banned from the third Test after accumulating a certain number of demerit points.
Even after a long break, Jadeja was in the thick of things right from the word go. He scored a double century and picked up seven wickets in his first Ranji Trophy match for Saurashtra against Jammu & Kashmir.
However, he had a quiet game against Jharkhand, notching scores of 42 and 7*. He picked up just two wickets in the match.
4. Wriddhiman Saha
India’s famed wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha too was able to take a long break after the final Test against Sri Lanka in August.
When he turned up for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy, he started with a half-century against Services, but thereafter, the 33-year-old has recorded scores of 15 (Services), 27 (Chhattisgarh), 2 (Himachal Pradesh) and 34* (Himachal Pradesh).
Saha has notched 16 catches in this Ranji Trophy so far. He is yet to effect a stumping.
5. Murali Vijay
Murali Vijay hasn’t played a match for India since the fourth Test against Australia in March. The opening batsman was named in the Test squad for the series against Sri Lanka, but was withdrawn later, after he realised that he hadn’t recovered from a wrist injury. He sustained the injury during the Test series against Australia.
In his last seven matches across all formats, Vijay has scored only two half-centuries.
6. Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma’s last Test match was against Australia in March. After the speedster was left out for the fourth Test, Ishant has never been picked in the playing eleven. The pacer didn’t get a chance to play in even a single Test in Sri Lanka.
After the series against Australia, Ishant had a terrible IPL season, when he failed to pick up even one wicket for the Kings XI Punjab in 6 matches.
The 29-year-old’s poor form continued in the Duleep Trophy as well. He managed to pick up only 1 wicket in 3 innings.
However, in the first innings of his first Ranji Trophy match against Assam, Ishant picked up figures of 5/38. He had a decent match against Uttar Pradesh as well, recording figures of 3/38 in each of the innings.
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