India is now aiming for cricket’s highest honor – the World Test Championship in 2023

By Yajurvindra Singh

The battle for India to qualify for the Test World Cup finals to be played at the Oval in England on June 7, 2023 was definitely a thrill.

Sri Lanka were the only side that could have ruined India’s chances of qualifying and they almost did. The last ball of New Zealand’s friendly win over Sri Lanka was the tightest end imaginable.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson struggled for the final run and managed to get the kink through the narrowest margin. This was Test cricket at its best and one that will see it thrive in the future.

India, which has been heavily criticized for treating wickets at home, got timid at the most critical juncture. With a 2-1 lead and a win that secured their place in the World Test finals, India produced a field in Ahmedabad that was a racquet’s paradise. Perhaps the presence of the two heads of state played a role. After all, they didn’t want hitting to become an art of juggling, rather than a sweet and lighthearted counting game.

One expected a turning track and one that ensured a result. The din of criticism must have gotten under the curator’s skin and, to avoid further embarrassment, produced a typically slow, unresponsive gate. Both the Australian and Indian batsmen made full use of this. For India, young Shubman Gill has established himself as a top-flight batsman who will be rocking the cricket world in the near future.

The icing on the cake was the century that eluded India batsman Virat Kohli finally came to life. Virat has been the backbone of Indian cricket and bringing him back mentally as a champion bodes well for India.

Australia showed us why they are such a tough team in all conditions. They were humiliated and beaten to a pulp in the first two friendlies and then came back with flying colors. Although Australia may be confident, the truth is that they have lost the last 4 Test series both home and away to India. This in itself shows how India are ahead and favorites to win cricket’s highest honor – the World Test Championship.

The beginning of June is always very tricky weather-wise in London. England had snow in March and are expecting a wet and cold start to the cricket season in June. In years past, India was always made to tour England at the time, and the result was that the crackpots that India boasted about became ineffective.

The cold and wet Duke ball made gripping difficult, and both fingers and wrist spinners suffered as a result. India’s problem area will not be the batters for this one game, but the bowling unit of the playing eleven. The problematic question that arises is whether India should continue with the most recent successful artists or opt for a more specialized eleven for the conditions they will encounter.

The wickets in England in June are more suited to swing bowlers, so India will have to go with 4 searn. Unfortunately, none of the fast front-line bowlers are good hitters and Shardul Thakur, the only one who had shown some potential, failed to inspire confidence.

As such, there has been some surprise at Hardik Pandya’s recent statement that he does not wish to replace or be part of the World Test Championship. His reasoning was highly unconvincing as he felt he hadn’t put in the hard work required to play the game’s longer format and is therefore unable to replace any of the existing playtesters.

Hardik may believe his potential lies in playing white ball cricket, but he is India’s only option for a fast bowler all-rounder. The Indian selectors must stress the importance of his presence and, if necessary, Hardik should be instructed to get physically and mentally fit for the task.

Srikar Bharat or KL Rahul as wicketkeeper might be another contentious issue that comes to mind. Rahul should get the nod, especially for his hitting. He has a history of hitting big hundreds at the Oval and is a player who could steady the ship when top batters fail. Bharat was a good option on the spinning Indian lanes, but in England the wicketkeeper is holding back as conditions are more conducive to fast bowling than spin.

Australia, on the other hand, are preparing for the Ashes series to be played in England later in the season. They have the attacking pace and players who are also more used to English conditions.

India failed to prepare for the final of a Test match due to lack of time when they played against New Zealand in the inaugural World Test Championship. India needs to make sure they don’t repeat the same stupidity. They need every one of their playtesters to be ready and focused this time.

The IPL is a T20 circus which is commercially good for Indian cricket but it is the 3 years of hard work that has resulted in India getting another chance to win the most prestigious of all cricket trophies and become World Test Champions to be crowned.

It would be the very prize Indian cricket and cricket lovers would applaud, especially after nearly a decade of emptiness that has engulfed them.


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