Former England captain Nasser Hussain has identified the one area that Team India need to bolster if they are to improve their Test record away from home and claim a first ICC World Test Championship title this cycle.
While India reached the most recent final of the ICC World Test Championship on the back of some great success on home soil, their form away from the sub-continent remains an ongoing concern for Hussain.
India recently defeated the West Indies 1-0 in the Caribbean and played some excellent cricket in Bangladesh at the end of last year to inch towards a maiden appearance in the World Test Championship Final, but results away from home have been mixed for Rohit Sharma’s side outside those two series.
Hussain believes when playing at home India have the right blend of players to continue to prosper. “They are brilliant at home…and the balance of their side at home is just wonderful,” Hussain said on the most recent episode of The ICC Review.
“They’ve got senior players like Rohit and obviously Virat (Kohli) and they are just world class players and they’ve got youngsters coming in, like Shubman (Gill), who’s going to be a superstar.
“If Jasprit (Bumrah) can come back as well, one of the great multi-format bowlers there is at the moment, if not the best, when fit. So, they’ve got those senior players and youngsters, and with the ball in India, those three all-rounders, and they are genuine all rounders in India – Axar (Patel), (Ravindra) Jadeja and (Ravichandran) Ashwin. That, for me, is a really balanced side because then you’ve got a No.7.”
But it is India’s team balance away from home that remains a question mark for Hussain and was evident when they were defeated by Australia in the second instalment of the World Test Championship Final in June.
Hussain knows India’s middle-order will be strengthened should wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant return to full fitness, but the lack of a seam bowler that can also bat is an ongoing concern for the respected commentator.
“I was travelling with Ricky (Ponting) a lot during the Ashes, and he was texting Rishabh, and Rishabh was in the gym, and he was getting updates,” Hussain added.”He is a massive miss at the moment and hopefully he will come back.
“It’s away from home and the balance of the side and if they can get a seam bowling all-rounder. Hardik (Pandya) would’ve been perfect if Hardik had stayed fit and continued that process.
“An Indian cricketer at the moment, a (Ben) Stokes type cricketer, a Cameron Green type cricketer, a Mitchell Marsh type cricketer, a batter at No.6 or No.7, away from home, that can bowl you 10 or 15 overs of genuine wicket-taking seam and swing, not a bowler who bats a bit, a batter who can give you 10 overs of seam bowling, and then that balance away from home makes them formidable.”
And while Hussain may be somewhat worried about the make-up of India’s middle-order, he has no similar concerns for their top-order and thinks young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal is well placed to build on the impressive start to his Test career he made against the West Indies recently.
“From what I’ve seen…he’s made a fantastic start,” Hussain noted. “You speak to people who have seen him in the IPL, again I’ve been working with Ricky (Ponting) and Dinesh (Karthik) came over, and you ask questions, and they all go, yeah, this lad can play.
“He looks to have the technique and he looks to have that mindset. “Like most young Indian players and batters in particular, most of them come in and have immediate success. And that is a good sign for first-class cricket, that they are being produced, not just the IPL.
“I’ve watched so many young Indian batters come in and I look at them and think, technically they look very gifted because they’ve been brought up on watching Rohit or watching Virat or watching before that, you know, Virat’s watched Sachin (Tendulkar) and Sachin’s watched Sunil (Gavaskar).”
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