There have been a number of positives for India from the two tour matches against Australia A, both at different venues in Sydney, ahead of the Pink Ball Test at the Adelaide Oval which commences from the 17th of December. Which batsmen were amongst the runs? Who will partner Mayank Agarwal in the series opener? Will India play with a 6 batsmen + wicket-keeper + 4 bowlers combination? How were Bumrah and Shami with the Pink Ball?
Let us answer some of these questions.
Gill Looked in Sublime Touch
Shubman Gill got an attractive 29 off 24 deliveries at the Drummoyne Oval in Sydney and was in sublime touch in the Day and Night Pink Ball tour match at the SCG. Batting at number three, he scored a fluent 43 off 58 deliveries in the first innings before an equally attractive 65 off 78 in the second. He was technically very correct, solid in defense and had time to play the fast bowlers - something which will assume even more significance in the twilight period under lights at the Adelaide Oval.
Prithvi Shaw failed in three of the four innings of the two tour matches against Australia A and had a shocking dip in form in the latter half of the IPL too. He is susceptible to the rising short delivery and his defense remains questionable against a world-class attack comprising of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc.
Pant's X-Factor Or Saha's Agility Behind the Stumps?
Rishabh Pant smashed an unbeaten 103 off just 73 deliveries (including 6 sixes) at the SCG. The sheer audacity of some of the strokeplay on display is what defines Pant - the batsman! Saha scored a patient fifty in the second innings at the Drummoyne Oval and is amongst the most skilful wicket-keepers in the longer format in the world. But Pant has also improved his glovework behind the stumps and in addition has the ability to change the course of a match, especially one which is expected to be dominated by the ball, in the course of a session. Saha will still start favourite for Adelaide but the Indian captain has surprised us by picking Pant before!
Rahane & Pujara Got Some Runs
The established number 3 and 5 for India got some runs in the tour matches. While Pujara scored 54 but more significantly spent some time at the crease facing 140 deliveries, Rahane scored a fine 117 in the first innings at Drummoyne Oval.
Vihari May have Settled the Number 6 Debate For Now
Hanuma Vihari scored a classic text-book first-class hundred in the second innings at the SCG and has, for now at least, settled the debate around the number 6 position. Given India has gone in for the 6 batsman + wicket-keeper + 4 bowlers combination overseas in the last few years, it will be surprising to see the extra bowler - whether Kuldeep Yadav or Navdeep Saini take Vihari's place in the XI in Adelaide.
Bumrah-Shami - Lethal As a Pair
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami bowled with pace, accuracy and venom in Australia's first innings at the SCG and looked lethal with the Pink Ball under lights. They combined to take 5 wickets, all of the top and middle-order, in the 20 overs bowled between them. Under lights at the Adelaide Oval, this pair has the potential to bowl out Australia in a session!
Difficulty of Batting Under Lights
The most difficult time to bat in a Day and Night Test is the twilight period just before it starts getting dark - this is the time when the established batsmen at the crease have extra onus to carry on and not throw their wicket away as it could easily result in a collapse. This is what happened with India in the first innings at the SCG - from 72 for 1 they were reduced to 123 for 9 before Bumrah the batsman scored a counter-attacking fifty.
We may see this in Adelaide too. There will be phases of play, under the sun, when the batsmen will be on top but as soon as twilight approaches, the pitch and the conditions will change dramatically with the Pink Ball and it will be a whole new ball game altogether.