Where there is King Kohli, can miracles be far behind?

 By Kersi Meher-Homji

I can hardly wait. Can you? The first ever day-night pink ball Test between India and Australia starts on Thursday.

As the Australian team is weakened by the absence of experienced opening batsman David Warne with no in-form opener in sight, the Indian XI is almost at full strength with only Rohit Sharma in doubt.

In previous matches on the tour, skipper Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari and Rishbah Pant have batted with confidence and flair. Fast to fast medium bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have bowled effectively. On the negative side, no Indian spinner has impressed so far.

I wonder why renowned off-spinner Ravichandra Ashwin was not given a go in the day-night pink ball match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) last week. In my opinion star batsmen Kohli and Pujara should also have played in this match to get adjusted to the pink ball experiment at the SCG.

There were many highlights in the drawn SCG pink ball match which ended on Sunday. Bumrah surprised all ”“ including himself ”“ by top scoring in India’s first innings. Coming in to bat at number 10, he hit 55 runs with six fours and two sixes as India struggled to 194.

Then he shone out as a quickie capturing two vital wickets as Australia A team collapsed for 108, fast-medium bowlers Mohammed Shami and Navdeep Saini taking three scalps each.

Leading by 86 runs, India’s Mayank Agarwal (61 runs) and Shubman Gill (65) added 104 runs for the second wicket. Most heart-warming batting was witnessed as Hanuma Vihari (104 not out enriched with 13 fours) and wicket-keeper batsman Rishbah Pant slaughtered the Aussie attack with a splendid unbeaten 103 including 9 fours and 6 sixes.

They put on 147 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket as India declared at 4 for 386 setting Australia A team 473 runs for an unlikely victory.

The hosts started poorly losing their first three wickets for only 25 runs and many thought India would win. But then Ben McDermott (107 not out), skipper Alex Carey (58) and Jack Wildermuth (111 not out with 12 fours and three sixes) batted gloriously and the match was drawn.

Oh for a Ravi Ashwin to make vital breakthroughs!

Australia holds advantage in the Test starting on Thursday having the experience of playing many day-night pink ball Tests in Australia. It is India’s first such Test down under. But where there is ”˜King’ Kohli, can miracles be far behind?

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