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Who should bat at No.6 in Indian test cricket team?

Written By Unknown on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 | 31.10.12

Currently major point of discussion about Indian test team is “batting position No.6”. Especially, considering the fact that India is playing sides like England and Australia in the near future the issue has gained lot of momentum.
In the recently, concluded test series against New Zealand, Suresh Raina played at No.6 although without much success. With Yuvraj Singh getting fit, Raina’s place is certainly in danger for upcoming series against England.
However, looking at longer term view of Indian test side and flexibility for the team two more players namely R. Ashwin and Irfan Pathan deserves mention.
1.      Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina averages meager 28.44 in 17 tests with just one century against Sri Lanka. His record in England was 78 runs from 4 tests at 13.12 while on South African bouncy pitches he scored with an average of 3 in his only test! Even in India, he has scored at dismal average of 20.20 from 7 tests indicating his inability of adopt at longer version of the game.
Although Raina played relatively lesser number of test matches, he had failed to utilize his experience from 151 ODIs into Test matches. Moreover, he remained extremely susceptible against quality fast bowler and short balls.
2.      Yuvraj Singh
One of the best ODI batsman in the world, Yuvraj Singh is yet to make his mark in the test matches. Although Yuvraj played his first test in 2003, he has played only 37 matches till now. Yuvraj’s inability to cement his place in the test side coupled with his higher age weakens his case as long term option as India’s No.6 test batsman.
Yuvi averages 34.80 in 37 tests which is less than his ODI average of 37.62! Although he scored 3 test hundreds, all his centuries were against Pakistan in sub-continent. Yuvraj’s test average in Africa (18.50), Oceania (17.75) and West Indies (17.33) is not at all impressive.
Yuvraj’s return from fighting cancer coupled with his magical performance during the World Cup certainly makes as case for him but it would be more due to emotions rather than longer term view.
3.      R. Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin has already cemented his place as lead spinner in Indian test side. However, looking at his tremendous batting potential coupled with solid temperament, Ashwin makes strong case for No.6 position. Ashwin played 8 tests till now averaging impressive 39.22 with a century against West Indies. His strike rate of 73.23 is highly commendable at the test level. Now only he averages more than Raina and Yuvraj but his technique against fast bowling is far superior and solid.
Ashwin batting at No.6 provides lot of flexibility for Indian test team. In sub-continental conditions India can play with 3 spinners and 2 pace bowlers while in away tours India can go with 4 seam bowl attack. Moreover, Ashwin is an excellent off-spinner which provides lot of options for the captain.
4.      Irfan Pathan
Irfan Pathan has made tremendous comeback in 2012 making him one of strong contenders for test team spot. The guy who has taken 100 wickets from 29 tests scored more than 1000 test runs at an average of 31.57. Not only he averages more than Raina, but his quality fast bowling makes him better choice.
With inclusion of Irfan Pathan, India can play with 3 spinners at home while he provides option for his captain to play an extra bowler playing away tests. With the age on his side, Irfan could be developed as useful all rounder for India for the long term.

Hence, although India is playing next 8 test matches at home, it is necessary for Indian team management to find long term solution for No.6 spot which was vacated by legendary Sourav Ganguly.  It is important that India creates test side which can win matches in countries like Australia, England and South Africa. To do that, we need quality all rounder at No.6.
Test Cap must be earned!

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