India posted a 2-1 series win against Australia Down Under for the first time in their cricketing history. India have to wait for seven decades to achieve this feat under the leadership of Virat Kohli.
Hence, it’s natural for Kohli to rank this win as the biggest achievement of his cricketing career, even ranking higher than the 2011 World Cup win at home. India have done themselves proud with this win and silenced critics who have always questioned them that they are lions at home, but lambs abroad.
Also, they have moved on from posting just solitary win in overseas Test series. Nevertheless, India still have few rooms for improvement if they wish to be consistent in Test cricket overseas. India’s next milestone should be winning a Test series in South Africa, which they have never done before.
So, here are five areas for improvement for India despite a historic 2-1 Test series win against Australia.
Unstable opening pair
Mayank Agarwal was the find of the series. He received an Indian cap late, but when he did get his chance, he did not disappoint. He struck two fifties in three innings, and looked good for his maiden Test ton before a rush of blood saw him losing his wicket in the first innings of Sydney Test.
Nevertheless, Mayank’s success does not hide India’s weakness of unstable opening pair. It has been a game of musical chairs for the opening slots. With KL Rahul, Murali Vijay continuing to disappoint, India had to fall back on Mayank Agarwal who made the best use of the opportunity.
The return of Prithvi Shaw will show the door to Rahul-Vijay. But Mayank and Prithvi are too new to international cricket to do justice as openers in Test cricket consistently. India have to hope Mayank-Prithvi clicks or they would have to go back to Vijay or Rahul and pray again they find form.
Excessive reliance on Pujara, Kohli
The win over Australia shows India are heavily dependent on Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli to do the bulk of the scoring. Yes, Rishabh Pant finally came up with a big knock in Sydney, but the truth is India have a brittle middle-order and a long tail which under quality bowling can be blown away like in the England Test series last year. India need runs from the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin consistently to add depth to their batting line-up or the opposition will continue to fancy their chances of bowling India out cheaply once they dismiss Pujara-Kohli early.
Fitness issues of key spinner R Ashwin
Ashwin broke down twice in Test series against England and Australia and that is not a good sign. Ashwin’s fitness issues hamper India’s playing XI combination. If not for Ravindra Jadeja filling in for Ashwin admirably, India would have struggled in their key spinner’s absence. Ashwin has to work on his fitness so that he can bowl long spells needed for India in Test cricket and continue to be available in subsequent key matches during the Test series. Besides, Ashwin’s presence in the lower-order gives depth to the batting line-up.
Improvement in captaincy
Except in the Perth Test, captain Virat Kohli got his team selection right. He had opted for an all-pace attack in Perth which backfired as India missed a spinner to take advantage of the cracks later on. Nathan Lyon reaped the rewards coming up with a man of the match performance.
But overall, Kohli led with passion, getting his moves right most of the time. But he still needs to improve on captaincy so that against stronger teams and challenging conditions, he does not fall short. The good thing is that he looks to avoid repeating mistakes that cost India a few overseas Tests last year. The Australia win would give him a lot of confidence to improve on his captaincy.
India’s short on reserve pacers
Barring the troika of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, India have an untested reserve pace attack. Bhuvneshwar has not been given his due chances and has been left out despite proven performances in Test cricket. Umesh Yadav continues to be a force on home conditions only. Hence, if the likes of either Ishant, Bumrah or Shami gets injured or rusty, then India would have a hard time to find a suitable replacement. So, India must look beyond the three to do duty for them in Test cricket.