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Indian cricket team has an ageing problem

The defeat to England in the first test, held in Chennai, of the ongoing series has brought to the surface a couple of challenges. First, the return of Virat Kohli to the test team strengthened the batting but his leadership gives the team an unsettled feel. Second, India’s first choice batting lineup is on its last legs as most of the players are in their 30s.

This problem was apparent even in Australia but the extraordinary performance of the bench resulted in a historic victory. But that performance cannot paper over the cracks that have been visible for a while.

Rohit Sharma, A. Rahane, Kohli and C. Pujara are all in their 30s. It is a moot point if Rahane and Sharma can hold their spots as batsmen for long. Also, R. Ashwin is in his mid-30s and is unlikely to be the first choice spinner in tests for long. Therefore, we are likely to see a fairly big change in first choice players in test matches by next year.

The unsettled feel comes from other choices. Rishab Pant is good enough to claim his place in the team as a batsman. But he is not good enough to be wicket-keeping in home conditions where three spinners are played. It is strange that Kuldeep Yadav is good enough to make the squad as a spinner but doesn’t inspire enough confidence in the captain to be played in the final 11. These are some issues that need to be sorted out soon or India’s performance may take a big dip during the generational transition that will happen sooner than later.

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