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No refusal here!

Updated on: 03 March,2024 07:00 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sunil Gavaskar |

Shreyas Iyer had also played the Ranji Trophy game as asked by the Indian team management just before the England Test series started, so it’s not as if he has refused to play the domestic tournament at all

No refusal here!

India pacer Jasprit Bumrah. Pic/AFP; (right) Shreyas Iyer on Day One of Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy semi-final against TN at MCA-BKC on Saturday. Pic/PTI

Sunil GavaskarWhat a terrific Test match series we have had so far. It’s been riveting cricket with some incredible batting and bowling performances.  There’s been attacking, aggressive batting from England and some good old fashioned Test match batting from India that helped them to reduce the deficit in the first innings at Ranchi to just 46 when it could well have been another 100 more runs and then again in the second innings, there was great application and determination shown by the two youngsters, Shubman Gill and Dhruv Jurel that took India home to a 3-1 lead. If any proof was needed of the talent at India’s disposal, the Ranchi Test match showed it most emphatically. 

The team that took the field was like the one that took the field in the fourth and final Test match at Brisbane in 2021. There were no big names there, just big hearts and a determination to show that they could take on the responsibility and shoulder any burden that was given to them. Credit also has to be given to the captains who handled the inexperienced players superbly, giving them the encouragement and belief that they were more than good enough to fill in the big gaps left by the big guys’ absence. They showed that they had learnt from the big guys too as they played above and beyond expectations to register victories that will be remembered for a long, long time. What it also showed was the difference captaincy makes. Pleasure to perform against pressure to perform makes for wins rather than narrow losses.

Also Read: MI vanquish RCB in their own backyard, beat Mandhana & Co by 7 wickets

English conditions in D’sala

With just one Test match left in the series and that too in weather conditions more English than Indian, the visitors should feel a lot at home.  The ball should swing a lot more in the air, but whether it will also seam off the pitch remains to be seen. There’s a school of thought that thinks that with the series decided, the Indians may ease up a bit, but they forget that even a dead rubber match carries points for winning and all those matter when it comes to qualifying for the World Test Championship final. So, there’s no chance of the Indian team taking it easy. Sure, the pressure will be just that little bit less since the series is already won, but there are places to secure and add to individual aggregates too.

The BCCI announced the list of the contracted players a few days back and as expected, Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were excluded from the contract list presumably for not playing Ranji Trophy cricket. Nobody still knows why Kishan has not turned up for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy, while at the time of writing this column, Iyer was in the Mumbai team to play the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy. Iyer had also played in the Ranji Trophy game as asked by the Indian team management just before this Test series started, so it’s not as if he has refused to play the Ranji Trophy at all. He did miss the quarter-finals, but that was also the time he had informed the team management of his inability to play the third Test match due to some pain in his back if he batted for some length of time. However, the trainers at the NCA certified that his markers were clean and they found him fit to play. That seemed to have gone against Iyer. Threshold of pain is an individual thing and no trainer can judge that.

Crucial Ranchi Test

Despite bowling just 15 overs in the first innings and then eight overs in the second innings of the third Test at Rajkot, Bumrah was rested for Ranchi presumably on the trainer’s recommendation. Don’t forget there was a nine-day break between the second Test and third Test match and then bowling 23 overs in the entire game is not tiring at all, so why was Bumrah rested? After the fourth Test there was going to be another eight-days break before the final Test match; enough time for supremely fit athletes to recover and be ready to play for the country. The fourth Test also was a crucial game as, if England had won that, the final Test would have been the decider. So, whether it was the NCA or Bumrah who took the call, it wasn’t in the Indian team’s immediate interest. That young Akash Deep bowled splendidly to offset Bumrah’s absence, once again showed that it doesn’t matter if the big names don’t play there will always be young guns who would be only too happy and as the skipper Rohit Sharma said, be hungry to play for India and to bear any hardship for the honour and privilege of playing for your country.

Brisbane and Ranchi, both fourth Test matches of a series, should always be written in letters of gold in the history of Indian cricket as examples of how sheer love for the country can overcome any challenges.

Number of runs scored by Mumbai’s Shreyas Iyer in the Ranji match v Andhra earlier this year

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