Stand-in captain KL Rahul said that if the Impact Player rule was there in Test cricket, he would have liked to bring on left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav for the second innings of India’s second Test match against Bangladesh in Mirpur.
Yadav was dropped for the second match despite picking eight wickets and being the player of the match in India’s first Test win last week. Rahul, standing in as captain in place of the injured Rohit Sharma, said though India missed Yadav, the team was picked for all five days of the Test match which necessitated having an extra fast bowler.
“If the impact player rule which has been introduced in the IPL was also there in Test matches, I would have loved to bring Kuldeep in the second innings,” Rahul said in the post-match press conference.
“It was a tough call knowing that he had won the last Test match for the team. But what we thought after seeing the pitch before the game and the first day of the game, we thought there will be assistance for fast bowlers and seamers. And keeping that in mind, we want to play the best balanced side we can and that’s the call we made,” he said.
“I don’t regret that, and that was the right decision. If you see the 20 wickets we took, a lot of wickets [ten] even the fast bowlers took. They had a lot of assistance and there was a lot of inconsistent bounce. All these decisions we took keeping in mind the experience of playing here (Mirpur) in the ODIs. We played two (ODIs) here and we saw that there was assistance for both spin and fast bowlers. Understanding that a Test match goes on for four or five days, you need to have both. You need a balanced attack, and I feel it was the right call,” Rahul added.
Despite winning the series 2-0, there have been concerns about the top order’s vulnerability against spin bowling. India are currently second in the ICC World Test Championships but need to win three out of their last four Test matches against Australia to qualify for the final.
Rahul defended the Indian top order’s shakiness against spin saying, “Whatever the conditions, whether it’s seaming or turning, at the end of the day, batsmen will get out. If the pitch assists spinners, you will get out to spinners. If it assists seamers, you will get out to seamers. We don’t really think so much that we are only getting out to spinners or only to fast bowlers.”
“If it is a pattern, you will work with your coaches and do the homework to see where things are wrong and correct them. Like you said we have four important Test matches coming up against Australia at home. Pitches, I am guessing, will be very similar to how we have played here. There will be a bit of assistance for spin, and that’s something of a challenge for us batters as to how early we can adapt. Each player is different and has to find his own way. You trust the individual to make that choice,” Rahul said.
“The opponents will study the conditions, the pitches. You try to give your best and after that whatever happens is in nobody’s control. You accept whatever comes. Preparations and hard work are in our hands. You will never be perfect. Even if we play just spin for the next one month, it doesn’t guarantee that against Australia we will make hundreds in every match. You just prepare with the right mindset, how hungry are you to perform for the team and that’s important. It’s exciting. The mistakes we have done here, the experiences we have had here will be handy. You go back and have that little bit of time to work on them,” he added.
Rahul’s position in the side has been under scrutiny for the past few months after a poor run of form. Even Virat Kohli, who found his groove in the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup, has been out of form in Test cricket. On asked if it is smart to go into a high-pressure Test series against Australia and hope to regain their form, Rahul said, “We obviously don’t go into the game thinking of what we may have done previously or what might happen next. We want to give it our best.”
“Every opportunity we are going to get, we want to grab it with both hands. Obviously after playing a few Tests and after being recognised as one of... when the team is looking at you to perform and get through you have that responsibility. That is what is going on in your mind,” he said.
“You want to give it your best. That never changes, whatever format it is, you want to perform for your team, for your country, play your role and do the best you can. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. I’ve seen a the ups and downs in whatever little cricket I have played and I know that neither of those things last too long. We have to keep looking forward and keep trying to be better, improve your skill and just keep looking forward to your next challenge. It is obviously, when you are playing all three formats, a bit tricky to just jump from one to the other.
“Personally I haven’t played Test cricket in some time now and it takes a bit of time to get back into the groove and understand and get your mind back to the things you were doing right when you were playing well. That’s the challenge of playing at this level and any format that you play; each format is a challenge on how quickly you can adapt and take your mind back to the right things to do. That’s something that excites me. Yeah, performances in this series haven’t been great. I can accept that. I tried my best and it didn’t work. But I always look forward and see what I can do better next time,” Rahul added.
India next play Sri Lanka in three T20Is and three ODIs at the start of the new year before playing New Zealand for the same number of T20Is and ODIs in the second half of January.
In their last Test assignment in the ICC World Test Championship 2021-23 cycle, India will host Australia for four Test matches in February.