IND vs SL: Taking the bull by its horns, India Tests itself on seaming tracks

India will need M. Vijay’s expertise in these conditions and needs to figure out a way of playing him in the eleven abroad. It will be a tough call for the team management with K.L. Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan being among the runs.

India being bullish about green wickets has a lot to do with the potency of its pace attack. In Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, the side possesses speed, movement and incision.   -  AFP

Cricket is a lot about intent and mind-set. In how a team reacts to different situations gives us indicators about its future.

Dominica, 2011: India, top-ranked in Tests and already 1-0 up against a struggling West Indies, has an opportunity to close out the series 2-0.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men are set a gettable target of 180 in 47 overs on the final day of the third Test. And India requires 86 more in 15 with seven wickets remaining when both captains agree for the draw.

India, content with a series win and betraying a defensive mind-set, does not chase down the runs. And the team’s downfall starts from that point. It is routed in England and Australia, loses its No. 1 Test ranking.

Fast forward to Eden Gardens, 2017: Virat Kohli’s rampaging side chases the game for most part, seems to walking on thin ice on last day morning, yet, sets up a challenging declaration and almost bulldozes its way to victory.

This time around too India is the No. 1 in Tests but the response is not timid. Kohli and India rebound, displaying the ruthlessness and the never-say-die attitude of a side seeking to dominate.

If the final day at the Eden Gardens turned out to be one for all ages, Kohli was at the heart of it. He survived a tense phase when the ball seamed around and India lost quick wickets and then dismantled a probing Sri Lankan attack with strokes of thunder.

There is not a negative bone in his body. Kohli might have his faults but does play his cricket with a rather ferocious intensity that rubs off on his team.

READ: IND vs SL: Sri Lanka earns a draw despite Kohli ton

Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri are kindred spirits. They feed off each other. It was brave on the part of the team-management to ask for a seaming pitch. Very rarely does a track in India sport so much grass.

The Indian team comprehends the challenge it faces in the coming months, in conditions that assist seam and swing in South Africa and England.

It has decided to take the bull by its horns by playing Tests on seaming tracks at home. The chances are that the surfaces for the remaining two Tests, in Nagpur and New Delhi, may be seamer-friendly too; the think-tank has asked for it.

But then, India does have batting worries.

READ: Kohli moves up to 5th in ICC Test rankings

Apart from the resilient Cheteshwar Pujara, the rest of the line-up came unstuck in the first innings when the conditions were most testing.

Coping with swing, seam and bounce is a lot about picking the line, being tight around off-stump, getting the footwork to synchronise with the length and playing in the ‘V’.

India will need M. Vijay’s expertise in these conditions and needs to figure out a way of playing him in the eleven abroad. It will be a tough call for the team management with K.L. Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan being among the runs.

Perhaps all three could play in the eleven if India opts for an extra batsman on a seaming pitch with one of the them given the role of playing the second new ball.

READ: Bhuvneshwar, Shikhar released from Indian Test team

India being bullish about green wickets has a lot to do with the potency of its pace attack. In Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, the side possesses speed, movement and incision.

Shami can be hostile while Bhuvneshwar opens up batsmen with his two-way movement. And there is depth - if Bhuvneshwar is unavailable, Ishant Sharma steps in.

Predictably, the Indian spinners bowled little on a greenish Eden Gardens pitch. Will seam-bowling all-rounder Vijay Shankar come in for one of the spinners if the Nagpur pitch appears seamer-friednly?

All credit to Sri Lanka for fighting hard till its collapse late in the Test. Suranga Lakmal’s skilful yet lion-hearted bowling showcased the side’s resolve.

In the classic at the Eden Gardens, both teams played their part.