Former Zimbabwe batsman and England’s Ashes-winning coach in Australia, Andy Flower believes that it will be tough for Team India to make a comeback in the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy following their morale-shellacking defeat in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval but he feels that the Ajinkya Rahane-led unit certainly has the ability to do an encore of their 2018/19 triumph.
Team India is certainly up against it. And, it not only because of the nature of the defeat that they suffered in the last game but also because of the quality of players that they are missing in their set-up for the rest of the series. While Virat Kohli is no longer a part of the series as he has returned back home in order to be with his pregnant wife for the birth of their first child, Mohammed Shami has joined the injury list with veteran pacer Ishant Sharma after he fractured his bowling hand courtesy a brutal Pat Cummins bumper in the last Test.
With the quality of players missing and the scars of 36 all-out still looming large, Team India will have to zero in on a winning combination if they have to make a comeback in the Boxing Day Test. Commenting on the same, Andy Flower said that the Indians will have to be at the top of the game throughout the Test match given the fact that the Australians are relentless in their backyard. He also added that India needs to find a way to counter the duo of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins as they can take the game away from them if they end-up landing the balls in the right areas, something that they did to the hilt during the second innings of the Pink ball Test, where they claimed nine wickets between them.
”Well, India won the last Test series they played in Australia. So, they certainly have the capability of doing that. I don’t doubt that. It will be tough to come back from that first loss, though. But they have the capacity to do that. It’s (Australia) a very difficult place to tour. Australians are very good in their backyard. They know the conditions at each of their six Test venues very well. They understand the conditions and how to exploit them. So, India have to be right at the top of their game, if they need to make a comeback in the second Test match,” Andy Flower told Times of India.
”So, it’ll be very interesting to watch how they come back. And also, how they combat the combination of accuracy and heavy quick bowling from the Australian quicks. Because that’s (Hazlewood and Cummins) a deadly combination in Test cricket. Things can happen quite quickly when those guys land the ball in the right areas. I’ve been on the end of a similar situation in Australia. So, it’s not beyond India at all. But they have to be right at the top of their game to turn things around,” he added.
Andy Flower explains the impact that the absence of Virat Kohli will have on Team India
Team India will be without their charismatic leader and champion batsman Virat Kohli for the remainder of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. And, according to Andy Flower, the visitors will miss Virat on two counts. Firstly, they will miss that ‘confidence and aggression’ that a world-beating batsman like Virat Kohli brings to any set-up, and secondly, they will miss unflappable energy on the cricket field. He, however, added that the players who will take Virat’s place will have a great opportunity to showcase their potential.
”There are a couple of things that will be missed from Virat, I would imagine. Number one is his batting. He was obviously batting brilliantly before he got run out in the last Test. And so, they’re going to miss his volume of runs. And also, I think, they will miss the confidence and aggression that the world-class player (Kohli) gives a side when he’s in the batting lineup. And then as a captain, being led by someone who refuses to be cowed down by any opposition, that gives people confidence. So, that’s a big miss. And it’s a good test for the other Indian players. (Ajinkya) Rahane is going to lead and it’s a good Test for whoever comes in and takes his place as a player,” Flower added.