Rishabh Pant’s continuous rise and Shreyas Iyer’s domination: Big positives for India from Sri Lanka series
NEW DELHI: The 2-0 clean sweep in Test series against Sri Lanka, not only helped India climb in the ICC World Test Championship standings, but it also gave hosts many positives.
Whether it was Rishabh Pant’s continuous rise, Ravindra Jadeja’s roaring comeback or Shreyas Iyer’s domination, the Rohit Sharma-led side had multiple star performers in the recently concluded two-match series.
Apart from Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne’s resistance and determination on the last day of the series, Team India showed their sheer dominance in both Mohali and Bengaluru Tests.
The convincing series win took India to No 4 spot in the latest ICC World Test Championship standings, with 77 points and a win percentage of 58.33 and now they have a realistic chance to try and make it to the Lord’s final, set to be played in June, 2023.
Key positives for India:
Continuing his tremendous rise in Test cricket, the 24-year old Pant impressed everyone with his batting and glove work and deservingly got the Player of the Series award. He was promoted to No 5 in the order, in order to counter Sri Lanka’s left-arm spinners and finished with 185 runs from three innings at a strike-rate of 120.13. After his success at number five, he could further cement his place at the same spot, which will help India in splitting the right-heavy line-up, in the future.
During his attacking innings in the Pink ball Test, the wicket-keeper batter scripted history after hitting the fastest-ever half-century (50 off 28) by an Indian batter in the longest format of the game. Pant smashed seven boundaries and two sixes to reach the half-century mark in just 28 balls and break the legendary Kapil Dev’s 40-year-old record. Kapil had scored a 30-ball 50 in the 1982 Test match against Pakistan in Karachi.
Along with his amazing number with the ball, Pant’s wicket-keeping also stood out as he conceded only five byes and handled Ashwin, Jadeja, Axar and Jayant with assurance on the spinning pitches. And, he believes that it’s because of his grown confidence.
“I think it’s more about confidence. I used to think too much about what I might miss. Now I am focusing on my process,” he said at the post-match presentation.
Skipper Rohit Sharma was also might pleased with the Pant’s wicket-keeping skills.
“The most significant factor of his in this series was his keeping. His keeping was the best that I have seen. He kept well when England came last year and he seems to get better every time he keeps wickets for India, so that is something that I have been very impressed with,” Rohit said.
On his Test debut in Kanpur, Iyer scored a fine hundred but he didn’t find a place in India’s playing XI in South Africa. So, this series was kind of a fresh start for Iyer, who batted at a new No 6 spot, which was Ajinkya Rahane’s place till last series. Shreyas, who could score only 27 runs in the 1st innings in the 1st Test, lived up to his reputation and dominated the Sri Lankan spinners in the second Test, hitting fifties in both the innings.
After his Player of the Match Award winning performance in the Pink ball Test, Iyer is set to be a sure-shot starter in the middle-order at least in the sub-continent, where India are scheduled to play the majority of their upcoming Tests.
On the other hand, Hanuma Vihari, who replaced veteran Cheteswar Pujara at No 3 for India, made good use of his first stint, finishing with 124 runs from three innings. The batter got starts but failed to capitalise on it and score big, which he needs to work on in the next series.
After missing back to back two series against South Africa and West Indies due to injury, Jadeja made a roaring comeback in the 1st Test of the two match series against Sri Lanka.
The spin all-rounder made his career-best, unbeaten 175 with the bat and had a match haul of 9/87 in India’s win by an innings and 222 runs against Sri Lanka in Mohali. Based on his performance in the first Test, he also became the top-ranked all-rounder in the ICC Test rankings.
Ashwin & Bumrah’s historic feat
The premier Indian spinner R Ashwin broke several records during the two match series. Playing his 85th match, went past Dev’s 434 Test scalps to become India’s second most successful bowler in the longest format. He achieved the milestone after dismissing Charith Asalanka during Sri Lanka’s second innings in the first Test, which India won by an innings and 222 runs.
The 35-year-old’s four-wicket haul in the second innings also helped him complete 100 wickets in the World Test Championship, making him the first cricketer to achieve the three-figure mark in a tournament that had begun in 2019. His 100 wickets came in 21 Test matches at an average of 19.66 and strike rate of 47.11 with four five-wicket hauls. Australian captain Pat Cummins stands second on the list with 93 wickets in 20 Tests while veteran England pacer stands third with 83 wickets in 21 matches.
On the other hand, Jasprit Bumrah’s 5 for 24 on a rank turner in Bengaluru Test and maiden five-wicket haul at home and eighth overall, which is now the joint-most for an Indian seamer after 29 Tests alongside Dev.
The pacer, who is just 29 Tests old, completed his eighth five-wicket haul by dismissing Niroshan Dickwella in the first session on Day 2 of the Pink Ball Test. Only Kapil Dev has registered as many five-wicket hauls among Indian seamers at the same point in his career. Of Bumrah’s eight five-wicket hauls two each have come in West Indies, England and South Africa and one apiece in Australia and India.
His 5 for 24 was also the best figures recorded by an Indian seamer against Sri Lanka, surpassing Ishant’s 5 for 54 in Colombo in 2015. Notbaly, Bumrah has played only four home Tests because India have actively sought to manage his workload.
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