India handed Sri Lanka a drubbing in the recently concluded Test series, winning 3-0 and dominating almost all sessions in all the three test matches. The Indian test team has been ruthless in the past year or so, playing a very dominant home season and registering wins in West Indies and Sri Lanka as well.
Ashwin and Jadeja have enjoyed some great success during this time and the Indian fast bowlers too have improved leaps and bounds, at times seeming more threatening than the spinners, even on lifeless wickets.
Ashwin’s batting at 6 has allowed India to go in with just 5 proper batsmen, making place for at least 5 proper bowling options, something that is extremely necessary to get those 20 wickets. And while India were going in with 5 specialist bowlers until now, they went in with 3 all round options this time round, handing Hardik Pandya his test debut in the Sri Lanka series.
And boy has he delivered!
A century in the final test proved his utility lower down the order big time, and with overseas test tours lined up, he could prove to be a worthy seaming all rounder for India.
In his post match press conference, Virat Kohli said that Hardik’s performance was probably the highlight of the tour.
“The regulars have performed, but the biggest positive would be Hardik’s inclusion and the way he shaped up in these three Test matches. The kind of confidence he showed with the ball and the maturity with the bat, it really gives us a lot of boost and the balance,” said Kohli.
While it was a bold decision from Kohli to leave out Kuldeep Yadav and draft in Hardik Pandya for all the three test matches, in hindsight it seems like a very well-planned move. Hardik now has the exposure of having played the test format, which would be extremely handy when India tours England, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, where the conditions would be seamer friendly.