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New Delhi, Aug 6 – Indian senior players like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli may have scored tons in the Test series against minnows West Indies, but it seems that the Team management missed a crucial aspect of nurturing the upcoming prodigies of World cricket keeping in mind the next cycle of the World Test Championship (WTC).
Following Australia’s emphatic win over India in the WTC 2023, it was a perfect opportunity for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to give a chance to the young guns who had proven their mettle in the domestic setup.
Also with the likes of captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Ajinkya Rahane being closer to the end of their careers, it was the right time for the Team management to give a chance to players having minimal international experience against the weak West Indies side.
However, nothing of this happened and a full-strength squad was picked for the West Indies Test series in June with Cheteshwar Pujara being the only exception.
Rahane, who had made a return to the Test squad after an 18-month hiatus, did impress in the WTC final against Australia but the right-handed batter since then has scored just 11 runs in the two innings against the West Indies.
Moreover, Rahane was made the vice-captain of the squad. Having played just 1 Test match in the last 18 months, it did raise some serious questions about the BCCI’s approach towards the future of Indian cricket.
The selection calls were also under scrutiny because 2023 is a World Cup year, and everyone expected the older lot to have some adequate rest having played continuous cricket (Indian Premier League and WTC).
India boasts an expansive talent pool at the grassroots level. 21-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal, who was picked for the West Indies Test, slammed 171 on debut and showed the world what a youngster is capable of if he is given an opportunity at the international level.
Bowler Mukesh Kumar, who made his debut in the second Test, too grabbed some eyeballs as he dismissed Kirk McKenzie giving India a much-needed breakthrough in the ongoing Test match against West Indies.
When WTC 25 will be staged, Rohit will be 38 years old, Kohli will be 36 years old and Rahane will be 37, with the youngsters like Sarfaraz Khan, and Arshdeep Singh knocking at the door of the selectors on the back of some scintillating performances in first-class cricket. The team management needs to take some harsh calls if India wants to lift the Test mace having lost two finals on the trot.
Also prioritising giving chances to the young guns is an investment in the long-term success of the team. To build a solid core, one needs to start taking bold calls at least two years prior to the mega event.
Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar, who has recently been appointed the chairman of the senior men’s selection committee, needs to adopt a futuristic approach else the team might face a similar fate as in the last two WTC finals.
The management should strike a balance between emerging players and the regular playing XI so that there is ample opportunity for the younger lot to learn from the seniors’ experience and contribute to India’s success on the world stage.