Not long ago, Team India was feared for its awesome batting line-up, studded with gems like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and V V S
The scenario has completely changed now. Only Dhoni
has survived in all three formats of the game.
While Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Tendulkar have
retired, Sehwag and Gambhir have been dropped and are
unlikely to return to Test cricket.
It is heartening to see that a set of totally new faces like
Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat
Kohli and Rohit Sharma promise a formidable batting line-up.
No, one is not prompted to say this on the basis of their
individual and collective performances in the just-conclud-ed two-Test series against the West Indies.
It would not be proper, simply because this West Indies
team is not Test class. But the spark of their brilliance and
performances against better teams are a fair indication that
here is a bunch of exciting young batsmen who will go
places, individually and collectively.
What is more, these true representatives of India’s bright
young brigade have been playing in the heavyweight division of cricket for the last couple of years only. To be more
precise, none of them was seen in Test cricket before 2010.
But they have already been very impressive and what they
have achieved hint at the greater things to come as Team
India enters a new era — post-Tendulkar.
Maybe, just maybe, the selectors will be inclined to test
Vijay for some more time because he has not been as con-
sistent with the bat and sure at the crease as the rest. He is
also a bit of an odd man out, as it were, in this exciting bat-
ting line-up. Vijay is 29 and the rest of the young batsmen
are between 24 and 25.
Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli and Sharma have already been
inspiring awe in much the same way Sehwag, Gambhir,
Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and Tendulkar did in the millennium’s first decade in which Team India scaled dizzier
peaks of success, first under Ganguly and then under
The dashing Dhawan made his Test debut this March
with a blazing, record-breaking century (187 off 174 balls
with 33 fours and 2 sixes) against Australia at Mohali.
Sharma’s scintillating Test debut against the West Indies
was at Kolkata when he got 177 runs (301 balls, 23 fours, 1
six) earlier this month.
Pujara came on the scene with a timely, match-winning
72 (89 balls, 7 fours) in India’s crucial second innings
against Australia at Bengaluru in October 2010.
Though Kohli had a lackluster start to his Test career on
India’s tour of the Caribbean in 2011, he came on his own
on the otherwise disastrous tour Down Under.
Although India lost all four Tests to Australia, Kohli
showed his craft with two outstanding performances — 44
and 75 at Perth and 116 and 22 (run out) at Adelaide.
Vijay may not match Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli and Sharma,
but he, too, has done fairly well. He scored 1,108 runs at
38.20 in 29 innings in 18 Tests, including three centuries
and three half-centuries.
It hardly matters whether Kohli or Sharma take
Tendulkar’s place at number 4. What is noticeable is the
substance and solidity these youngsters lend to India’s batting. And the batting just does not end or stop with either
Kohli or Sharma at number 5.
At number 6 will be Suresh Raina (who also made his
Test debut with a 100, 120, against Sri Lanka in Colombo
in July 2010) or somebody else before the redoubtable
Dhoni comes at number 7.
Ravichandran Ashwin is principally a spinner but emerging fast as a genuine all-rounder, having already hit two
centuries in 18 Tests. He bats at number 8 in this line-up.
And if the selectors prefer Ravindra Jadeja to Pragyan Ojha
for the slot of an orthodox left-arm spinner, Team India can
boast of having one more accomplished batsman in its
rank, and that too at number 9.
Jadeja may not have yet proved his batting ability at the
Test level for want of opportunities, but he has played useful innings in some one-day internationals. Importantly, he
has two triple centuries and one double hundred to his
credit in first-class cricket.
Both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami can
also bat a bit at number 10 and 11 respectively and, at least,
give good company to better batsmen when really required.
Indeed, India’s gen-next is quite capable, and actually
ready to carry forward the rich legacy of Tendulkar and
other greats who built this powerful Team India.
In Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay,
Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and
Rohit Sharma, India has a bunch of
exciting young batsmen,
says Haresh Pandya
Who will carry forward
PHOTOGRAPHS: BCCI Cheteshwar Pujara Virat Kohli Rohit Sharma