In the past seven weeks, India has played against England in all 3 formats . Just over 2 weeks from now, India kicks off a 4-Test series with Australia too. Almost exactly 10 weeks from now, the IPL will kick off with an opening ceremony that is no doubt newsworthy, for better or for worse. That will be followed almost immediately by the Champions Trophy in England. PHEW!
Yet here we are, in the middle of a packed season previewing a standalone test between India and Bangladesh to be played in Hyderabad, from Feb 9-13, 2017.
So how did this Test match find a way into the already crazy calendar? Maybe the BCCI realized that India, despite sharing a border with them, remains the only Test playing nation to have not yet hosted Bangladesh in a Test match. All that is set to change on 9 February 2017.
The last time Hyderabad hosted a test in 2013, Pujara scored a double, Vijay scored a century, Ashwin took a 5-for and Jadeja took 3 wickets in each innings. Kohli will back his top XI and will be looking to warm-up for the upcoming four test series against Steve Smith’s men with a win here.
Ahead of this (historic?) standalone test, here are a few things we at 1 Tip 1 Hand are watching closely:
India’s number 5
999 times out of a 1000, a score of 303* and becoming the second ever triple-centurion for your country in only your third Test match, means a guaranteed spot in the next one. Karun Nair will sleep on edge tonight though, with Kumble suggesting Rahane may get a look at number 5. While Rahane had a very forgettable series versus England, a test average of 47.33 is excellent by most standards. Despite this, Karun should get the call-up ahead of Ajinkya, just on the back of that wonderful triple century.
India’s third spinner
After a break from limited overs cricket, India’s leading spin pair of Ashwin and Jadeja will be rearing to go; but who will slot into that 3rd spinner’s role? Jayant Yadav had a memorable 4th test against England, though more with bat than ball. 22-year old Kuldeep Yadav, on the other hand, is in the squad for the first time and will hope to get a spot in the 11. Though Kuldeep has potential, Jayant is likely to get the call-up, since his inclusion gives Kohli batting options all the way down to #9.
The Bangladeshi Top Order
While India are clear favourites as the #1 Ranked Test Team playing against #9, the visitors’ have names like Tamim, Sarkar, Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan in their XI . Though they have not often performed together, one great innings on a pitch that will be batting-friendly could change all that. Kohli will be looking for Ashwin to deliver one of his magnificent spells. Mustafizur is still recovering from injurty and will miss the test.
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