December 2, 2013

All hail India's new order

The likes of Dhawan, Kohli and Pujara are a study in contrasts and similarities to the men they hope to replace in India's Test line-up
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Pujara and Kohli: who shall we compare them to? © AFP

India is fortunate they have managed to rebuild their batting order so quickly. While it's too early to predict how the new order will do in conditions that favour fast bowling, the rapidity with which a new set of good batsmen - who have at the very least shown the hunger to bat for long - has been found is remarkable.

In a way, this desire to bat long is the biggest tribute to the men who have stepped aside. Batting was always India's strong suit, but the magnificence of the band of five, especially outside India, has ensured their deeds will be a wellspring of inspiration for years to come. The ability to pass the baton is not India's strength as a society, and Indian cricket must consider itself a lucky exception to be witness to a fairly seamless transition.

The greatness of Sehwag, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Ganguly was that they built large and crucial partnerships, and the first four loved making big hundreds. Giving us an appreciation of the value and impact of the match-turning big hundred in a large partnership is their lasting legacy, and it seems to have made an early impact on Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. I believe there is another sort of effect that this batting order has had and will have on India's current and future batsmen. And I've come around to the topic at hand.

The playing styles of the five senior former batsmen reflect a richness of texture that will find echoes in Indian batting orders to come. And the same variety will serve as a model, untrammelled by convention yet respectful of the fundamentals of technique, a batting template that is a reminder of body balance, alignment of head position, and the virtues of playing the ball late, but not restrictive of the wristy flourish and of playing beside the line of the ball when the occasion allows for it.

The more technically sound three in the old order, apart from sharing personality traits (has there ever been a softer-spoken, nicer middle order I wonder), complemented each other beautifully: the stoic artistry of Dravid at one-drop, the science and art of Tendulkar's experiments with cricket at two-down, and the wispy, dreamy rhythms of VVS. The scene for this middle-order serenity was often perfectly set up by the remorseless aggression of Sehwag's playmaking, and frequently the battle felt truly joined with the moody, feisty left-handed grace of Ganguly.

While judgement of ability can prudently wait, a stylistic comparison of the old order with the new can be attempted. At the top, Dhawan makes the by-most-standards minimalist Sehwag look a merciless ball-beater in comparison. If Sehwag was known to hum a tune to keep his spirits up and mind fresh, Dhawan might well be singing multiple songs all at once. Sehwag looked like he wished to submit the bowler to a real flogging; Dhawan resembles a high-spirited swordsman who chanced upon a cricket ground on one of his jolly jaunts; having found himself there, he seems to be laughing out loud with every twirl of his moustache - at the fielding team's obvious discomfiture at not just having fluffed their lines but seemingly completely forgotten them. There is a bit of the ambush about his batting: bowlers aren't entirely sure what to expect next. He is a combination of Ganguly and Sehwag on the off side, with an ability to put the short, fast ball on leg away that was missing in both.

In batting manner, Kohli is more Ponting than Tendulkar, wristy flourish coupled with a dismissive, combative abrasiveness evident most in his hooking and pulling

Murali Vijay camps on his back foot generally, and has tremendous hands. Through the off side and to full balls on the leg, he oozes grace with every caressed drive and flick. It is almost as if it was VVS all over again, except he had now developed a bit of a swagger, didn't have a dodgy back and knees, and didn't mind hitting the occasional ball in anger. Will that silken brushstroke pull be unfurled at some point? Or does that require an exposure to matting pitches in your early cricket?

Pujara's presence at one-drop is a throwback to an earlier age. Monk-like in batting manner, he is the least excitable of India's new order. He tends to use his feet versus spin more than his predecessor at No. 3 did. His footwork is decisive against spin and pace alike, and speaks of a clear, methodical approach to his cricket. He reminds me of a young Sanjay Manjrekar in his square-of-the wicket off-side play and his straight-batted flicks through leg. There's a minimum of flourish, very rarely the intent to hit the ball in the air, and the use of a light bat. Everything is focused on scoring runs and by the heap. A kind of Indian Mr Cricket.

Kohli, Tendulkar's heir at No. 4, is the most flamboyant of the new order and possibly the most complete, versatile player of the current lot, at the moment. In being the leader of the bunch, ability-wise, he's like Sachin. If Vijay and Rohit Sharma exude effortless grace and rely on touch play, Kohli's timing is explosive. In batting manner, he's more Ponting than Tendulkar, wristy flourish coupled with a dismissive, combative abrasiveness evident most in his hooking and pulling. The slightest lapse in length will be punished, and he will not hesitate to dominate. Already he has played the most difficult bowlers well, albeit in one-dayers, notably looking remarkably sure of himself against Malinga and Saeed Ajmal.

Rohit Sharma, a wristier version of Mark Waugh in style, is well-suited to No. 5 or 6 now, because he is equipped to bat well with the tail. Although perfectly capable of flamboyance, he seems to prefer the smooth build-up to an innings, tucking the ball in the gaps and not getting bogged down, a bit like VVS. Having batted against the new ball in one-dayers, he plays the short ball with time to spare, and can accelerate if required against the second new ball in Tests. Before you know it, he might get to 30 or 40, and this can be handy when batting with the tail.

Stylistically then, this young bunch is just as varied as the old one. Dhawan can counter-punch, a sigh might escape you as you watch Vijay ease into a cover drive, Pujara can calm us and his compatriots, Kohli can set your pulse racing, and Rohit will glide his way about. It will take a bit of time for this new order to work out a successful method on pitches away from home; a longer tour than the one to South Africa would have given them more breathing space. As we wait for Sehwag and Gambhir to regain their form, it will be fascinating to watch these young men find their feet. The series ahead might herald a new batting dawn. Cricket awaits its breaking light.

Krishna Kumar is an operating systems architect taking a teaching break in his hometown, Calicut in Kerala

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 4, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    I must compliment the writer for his fantastic piece. A joy to read indeed. Thank you Krishna.

  • Phani_theSelector on December 4, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    @Nampally... England is known for swing.. not for bounce. Johannesburg and Perth are two famous bouncy wickets and if India at least could draw the test in Johannesburg, we can say Indian test future is safe.

  • Joe-car on December 4, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    @Nampally__You couldn't be more wrong. The wickets in Eng in the Champions 2013 Edition where dry and slow. In fact, compared to Aus and SA wickets, English wickets are generally slower and dryer. I can barely remember seeing a quick wicket in Eng in the last 10 years. And the bounce in those wickets is nothing to lose sleep over, it's not all that exaggirated.

  • Nampally on December 3, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    Krish, Your comments about the top 5 Indian batsmen are factual & true. Your expectation based on their performance during the past 12 months is also realistic. Sid Monga in Cricinfo column has lowered the expectation from Team India to an unbelievable level. The big issue used appears to be bouncy conditions in SA. I would like to add here that India won the World cup in England on green, bouncy + seaming pitches! This was not long after India performed poorly with its old experienced players, albeit some injured & half fit. This team was most of those youngsters who were more inexperienced then they are now. The point I am making is this over hyped media frenzy of bouncy green pitches seems to be catching up with journalists as well. I am sure that this Indian team will conquer bouncy pitches thru' grit & determination with disciplined batting, bowling & fielding. Dhoni should work on boosting the team to believe in themselves via their World cup win in England on "bouncy" pitches!

  • on December 3, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    A lot of expectations from all of them, sachin has left his legacy. Most interesting player i think will be kohli here because he has to face new ball most of the time. Murali Vijay although not one of the long race horse, deserves to be in the team for time being. Dhawan has just played 1 good test inning so far & rohit has played a couple, so comparing them with legends is too early for them. But yes overall these players look better than raina or yuvi. Rahane needs to be given a long run at no. 3 or 4 as he looks like a top order batsman & jadeja wii be the most lucky person on the earth if he gets a chance to play in test XI.

  • CRIC_FAN94 on December 3, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    I dont know what makes the writer to consider vijay as core of the indian batting line up but he is one of the ordinary players and even i doubt dhawan as long term player,i cant see him playing for india more than two or three years and once he enters 30's his reflexes will come into play.we all saw what happened to sehwag once he enter into the mid 30's

  • screamingeagle on December 3, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Going by whose comment I read, either SA is the best ever bowling attack ever to grace a cricket field or Indian batting will play against martians and come out tops. Fact is this Indian team is new, they may lose, they will not be consistent overseas, initially anyway, but there is a group starting to form. More importantly they seem to work well as a group. As long as they fight it out, I would be happy. There is no disgrace in losing to SA in SA. Actually, when you look at it, India can play without pressure, there is nothing much to lose. Some nice comments by people from our very sensible and pleasant neighbouring countries as usual, all one can say is follow your team instead of enjoying someone else's failures. What goes around, comes around. I vote for Pujara to score as well as Rohit. Kohli and Dhawan might make the odd good knock but would fail a few times too. Bowling....Zak, f

  • on December 3, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    As the team settles in for a new Order; it's time to find a good opener - Murli Vijay is definitely not that. Even Gambhir is better actually. My order would have been Gambhir, Dhawan, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Sharma, Dhoni. I think Pujara is the best young bat with a temperament to play the long innings; and needs to be kept away from the new ball. He may look a #3; but its better he operates as the fulcrum of the team at #4. That gives Kohli & Sharma the chance to bat aggressively!

  • ooper_cut on December 3, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Think we need to test this bunch against the best in fast and bouncy tracks (like how dravid, sachin and laxman proved themselves over a long period of time) before drawing any conclusions, it is a long long way to go for these kids, hope something of sachin has rubbed off to them.

  • on December 3, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    I think Rahane would be a better bet than Vijay. More patience and much more suited to Test cricket than Vijay. Also he's younger, and has more to offer than MV. I think he should be the test opener. Just an opinion :)

  • on December 4, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    I must compliment the writer for his fantastic piece. A joy to read indeed. Thank you Krishna.

  • Phani_theSelector on December 4, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    @Nampally... England is known for swing.. not for bounce. Johannesburg and Perth are two famous bouncy wickets and if India at least could draw the test in Johannesburg, we can say Indian test future is safe.

  • Joe-car on December 4, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    @Nampally__You couldn't be more wrong. The wickets in Eng in the Champions 2013 Edition where dry and slow. In fact, compared to Aus and SA wickets, English wickets are generally slower and dryer. I can barely remember seeing a quick wicket in Eng in the last 10 years. And the bounce in those wickets is nothing to lose sleep over, it's not all that exaggirated.

  • Nampally on December 3, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    Krish, Your comments about the top 5 Indian batsmen are factual & true. Your expectation based on their performance during the past 12 months is also realistic. Sid Monga in Cricinfo column has lowered the expectation from Team India to an unbelievable level. The big issue used appears to be bouncy conditions in SA. I would like to add here that India won the World cup in England on green, bouncy + seaming pitches! This was not long after India performed poorly with its old experienced players, albeit some injured & half fit. This team was most of those youngsters who were more inexperienced then they are now. The point I am making is this over hyped media frenzy of bouncy green pitches seems to be catching up with journalists as well. I am sure that this Indian team will conquer bouncy pitches thru' grit & determination with disciplined batting, bowling & fielding. Dhoni should work on boosting the team to believe in themselves via their World cup win in England on "bouncy" pitches!

  • on December 3, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    A lot of expectations from all of them, sachin has left his legacy. Most interesting player i think will be kohli here because he has to face new ball most of the time. Murali Vijay although not one of the long race horse, deserves to be in the team for time being. Dhawan has just played 1 good test inning so far & rohit has played a couple, so comparing them with legends is too early for them. But yes overall these players look better than raina or yuvi. Rahane needs to be given a long run at no. 3 or 4 as he looks like a top order batsman & jadeja wii be the most lucky person on the earth if he gets a chance to play in test XI.

  • CRIC_FAN94 on December 3, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    I dont know what makes the writer to consider vijay as core of the indian batting line up but he is one of the ordinary players and even i doubt dhawan as long term player,i cant see him playing for india more than two or three years and once he enters 30's his reflexes will come into play.we all saw what happened to sehwag once he enter into the mid 30's

  • screamingeagle on December 3, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Going by whose comment I read, either SA is the best ever bowling attack ever to grace a cricket field or Indian batting will play against martians and come out tops. Fact is this Indian team is new, they may lose, they will not be consistent overseas, initially anyway, but there is a group starting to form. More importantly they seem to work well as a group. As long as they fight it out, I would be happy. There is no disgrace in losing to SA in SA. Actually, when you look at it, India can play without pressure, there is nothing much to lose. Some nice comments by people from our very sensible and pleasant neighbouring countries as usual, all one can say is follow your team instead of enjoying someone else's failures. What goes around, comes around. I vote for Pujara to score as well as Rohit. Kohli and Dhawan might make the odd good knock but would fail a few times too. Bowling....Zak, f

  • on December 3, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    As the team settles in for a new Order; it's time to find a good opener - Murli Vijay is definitely not that. Even Gambhir is better actually. My order would have been Gambhir, Dhawan, Rahane, Pujara, Kohli, Sharma, Dhoni. I think Pujara is the best young bat with a temperament to play the long innings; and needs to be kept away from the new ball. He may look a #3; but its better he operates as the fulcrum of the team at #4. That gives Kohli & Sharma the chance to bat aggressively!

  • ooper_cut on December 3, 2013, 13:55 GMT

    Think we need to test this bunch against the best in fast and bouncy tracks (like how dravid, sachin and laxman proved themselves over a long period of time) before drawing any conclusions, it is a long long way to go for these kids, hope something of sachin has rubbed off to them.

  • on December 3, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    I think Rahane would be a better bet than Vijay. More patience and much more suited to Test cricket than Vijay. Also he's younger, and has more to offer than MV. I think he should be the test opener. Just an opinion :)

  • Pavinasen on December 3, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    killbillgbu,if you watched the test matches that he played recently then you would not even comment as you did.As a matter of fact(maybe opionion).VM is one of the most graceful cricketer in the morden era.He also averages 50+,not bad.He is more suited for the longer version than the shorter ones.Just good as VVXL.

  • Smahuta on December 3, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    Prabhakar Muthukrishnan Philly is a seamer mate, we are all surprised hen he gets one to swing now and then. The next test at the wanderers is going to be a special one for big Vern. He is going to take his 100th test wicket in only his 19th match. Only 5 wickets to go, and since it is the wanderers, I'm guessing that he will be going well beyond the hundred in this match. Lets see if India can be the one visiting team that avoids being bowled out for less than 100. It happened to Aus, and then it happened to NZ, then it happened to Pak. India next to be rolled for less than 100 in the first test???

  • Bilal_Choudry on December 3, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    they will earn the respect when the replicate the success they have had at home abroad in conditions more challenging to batting

  • anupam9992 on December 3, 2013, 7:40 GMT

    no one can replace Sachin, but someone has to take his position and that person should be Ambati Rayudu

  • on December 3, 2013, 6:47 GMT

    VEry bad to seee MS DHONI not mentioned any where.. saviour of indian team...

  • on December 3, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    M Vijay has two centuries in IPL , but plays as test opener

  • Joe-car on December 3, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    @Nampally__Yes, I did see that, and although your lads have played in SA, none bar Dhoni has played a test here. I think we can all agree that test and one day wickets are generaly different from each other. In India, facing someone like a Ashwin in test and one dayer is very different, and by the same token, it's so different facing a Zaheer or a Steyn from in test and one dayers. And before you point out the fact that your batsman have played 4 day cricket in SA I think I should point out that those wickets were a bit dry. Incidentally, I watched a couple of days of the match in Rustenburg and Harmer and Duminy troubling the batsmen confirmed my suspicions of the wicket being a bit dry. Oh, and I should know that wicket well too, since I live in Rustenburg and used to played my cricket there at Impala Cricket Club. Lastly, apart from Pujara and Kholi, your batsmen have minimal foot movement.

  • Phani_theSelector on December 3, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    @killbillgbu You are asking about the recent record of Murali Vijay and questioning his selection to SA tour. FYI.. M.Vijay scored 500 runs averaging 55.4 with 2 tons(both are 150+) and a half-ton this year. If you are questioning his inclusion, then I expect you to question even Kohli's inclusion as he scored just 344 runs averaging 49(1 not out) with one ton and 2 half-tons. Kohli career avg in 20 matches is 41.1 where as Vijay's career avg is 38.2 in 18 matches. I don't see much distinction between them and in-fact Vijay has scored some big hundreds unlike Kohli who usually throws it away soon after getting a ton.

  • yoogi on December 3, 2013, 4:59 GMT

    Pujara and Kohli are the only ones that deserves their place in the team as pure batsmen for a foreign tour. Its a pity that Pujara might be judged based on just two matches against world no 1s

  • pull_shot on December 3, 2013, 4:02 GMT

    too early for article may be can't write like this after d tour

  • killbillgbu on December 3, 2013, 2:37 GMT

    Why did India pick M. Viay for the SA tour? What's his recent record? Why is he even being mentioned with some great names? Doesn't make sense to me...

  • on December 3, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    in the history of indian cricket no fab 4-5 have dominated the fast bowling yes they servived for few years with hardly one or 2 overseas victories in 3 decades lets be fair we have very best lets hope they do their best if not they gain good exp.

  • LittleFinger on December 3, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    Vijay and Ganguly don't belong in this conversation, or at the very least, is forced. Otherwise there are clear successors in style as well as batting slot: Sehwag to Dhawan, Dravid to Pujara, Sachin to Kohli (though I agree Kohli is more Ponting than Tendulkar. Now I realize why I don't like him at a personal level!) and VVS to Rohit. I am amazed that India found replacements so quickly. Now it is up to them to prove if they are as good, even better, or pretenders.

  • on December 2, 2013, 22:17 GMT

    Accept every bit of the article and happy that Sehwag has also been included with the fab 4 but just can't acknowledge the presence of Murali Vijay. The guy can't seem to move his feet. I agree that VVS had a similar issue but then VVS is VVS. That wrist work and elegance cannot be matched. Plus Vijay just doesn't seem to be a match-winner. Having said that, my hopes are high on Cheteshwar Pujara for the SA tour. Looking forward to the battle...

  • Electric_L0ser_Wacko on December 2, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    @ getsetgopk - 3-0 in SA last time your folks toured there..with 2 less than 50 scores in test innings...9-0 in Oz the last 3 times your folks toured there too.. now that is embarrassing - your team haven't even drawn a test in the past 2 DECADES in Oz .. isn't it ironical that folks like you talk about Ind being whitewashed- when your team has hit new lows every time you've toured on green tracks & lost miserably even with the "WC bowling" on helpful tracks as some of your fellow supporters claim? well i wouldn't even bother looking at the ranking table to check pak stands - cos their misery is so evident from their performances..Jealousy is one word that comes to my mind instantly.

  • BigINDFan on December 2, 2013, 20:50 GMT

    I think it is wishful thinking to compare the current line up with the Fab 5. Yes the Fab 5 also started somewhere before becoming Fab. The styles of the current batsmen are quite different and so are their attitudes. They do not need to fill the big shoes left by the Fab 5 but make their own new Fab 5. However I agree that they have big expectations to meet having replaced the greats. The cool thing is Dhawan and Kohli to an extent Pujara do not care about comparisons or expectations. They are confident bordering on arrogance when they bat which is an asset when playing tough cricket. The audacity with which they chased down 350+ against the Aussies was stunning even on Ind pitches.

    If there is one tip to give these youngsters playing test cricket in SA - be patient like Amla. He makes Test batting look so smooth and seems to have all the time. Let the bowlers earn their wickets, don't gift it away.

  • Alexk400 on December 2, 2013, 20:19 GMT

    Dawan dream run comes to full stop in foreign pitches. Honeymoon is over.

  • Naresh28 on December 2, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    In my opinion the young brigade need to be aware that the ball bounce meeting the bat is higher in SA than in India. Dravid always practised cause he was aware of this - he even brought out a different bat. Dravid would have made a good batting coach for this tour. Anyway Pujara and Rohit have both experienced SA pitches lately. Kohli and Dhawan are capable of holding their own. Vijay might suffer

  • am243am on December 2, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    Really well written article! Part of the romance of cricket is in the gifted poetry and lyrical writing of its reporters. The tradition of this occasionally hyperbolic writing is well ingrained into the hearts of cricket lovers. You follow in the tradition of Roebuck and Guha. Well Done!

  • Naresh28 on December 2, 2013, 19:42 GMT

    AT LAST a writer has recognized that it not only the FAB FOUR but the FIFTH as well.SHEWAG was very much apart of the bunch.

  • on December 2, 2013, 19:27 GMT

    @ getsetgopk LOL, It is the match between No1 & No2 test playing nations . Do not disappear, wait and watch.

  • Nampally on December 2, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    @Joe-Car: If you read my input carefully you will find that I addressed the bounce & seam movement to be "countered by good footwork & keen eye". It is not the first time that Indians have played in SA. Adaptability will be the issue. The younger the players are the faster will be their learning process. So I expect the Indian batsmen will quickly adapt to the S.African pitches via ODI's, as Dhoni rightly said.It will be interesting to see how the Indians play in the ODI's. SA will also need to counter the bouncy spin of Ashwin & Jadeja. Swing bowling of ZAK, Kumar & Shami is not be ignored either. So the batsmen of both the teams will be going thru' watchful initial period. However the Indian debacle in their last tours of England & Australia have been over hyped by Media. I expect & hope the younger Indian batting talent will cope much better based on their determination to succeed. But expectation & results may not always match!

  • getsetgopk on December 2, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    The question here is Steyn! You can negotiate Philander and Morkel but your gona need a truck load of luck to survive against this guy. Steyn is one of the all time greats in my opinion. He will test the batsman, initially with speeds in upper 30's and will gradually crank it up all the way till 150 KMPH! Add pin point precision to that and swing and bounce and the ocasional seam movement. He's fit as a horse and can bowl longer spells when needed. A magnificent athelete. You can go on praising Indian batters all you want but at the end of the day, the question remains. Philander, there is more to the guy than meets the eye, can be as lethal as steyn on any given day. And Morkel with his height and the bounce he extracts, is yet another hurdle. The india batters may have devised plans A, B or C but lets hope they dont end up sticking to neither in all that confusion. Shame its just two tests, whats more exciting than knowing there's a full blown mahem waiting round the corner, LOL

  • The_other_side on December 2, 2013, 18:10 GMT

    Very smooth writing style... May be sir, compaong two different crops is like putting extra pressure on them.. What ever happens, this young crop of batsman have a task in hand and come out with learning experience. I would like to see your article coming true in reality, but comparisons are hard to make and keep up.

  • Joe-car on December 2, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    @Nampally___It's not just speed off the hand, it's about speed and movement and bounce off the wicket too. Bowling at brisk pace on slow, dry and low wickets is more often than not a disadvantage- probably the reason why it's generaly easier to face fast bowling than it is to face spin in India. Pace on the ball will be a different prospect on fast, bouncy and juicy wickets. It's deadly: you can ask anyone of Australia, New Zealand or Pakistan. So, the Indian batting line-up will be well-advised to forget about their prior confrontation with Morkel and Steyn in IPL and the last Champion's Trophy. PS: Can't wait to see Pujara in the flash. Class. Class. Class.

  • Nampally on December 2, 2013, 17:06 GMT

    What a poetic description of the top 5 Indian Batsmen! I hope these 5 translate your expectations by putting this poetry in Motion. Most Indian fans share your feelings & like you I also like to see the dawning of a New Era. A highly talented batting side has to temper its talent with Discipline & patience. Indians have faced Morkel & Steyn in the IPL on the Indian pitches. They also clobbered M.Johnson of the OZ team in the ODI's when he was sending them @ 154 KPH! By comparison Steyn & Morkel top off at 145 KPH & others are slower. But the bounce & seam movement needs to be countered by good footwork & a keen eye. Indian spinners will have to be steady while the 3 seamers must be able to take wickets. If all these events tie into place the results will be good. The most important angle oft. ignored is the fielding & catching. Slip fielding will decide the results in these closely matched teams fighting for the World Test #1 spot. Can India put it all together to rise to #1 spot?

  • on December 2, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    What has Murli Vijay done to be even considered a permanent member in the playing eleven, let alone even being compared to the Fab 5. I do not think he has even shown enough promise to be playing all three formats.

  • on December 2, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    for south africa tour, I prefer batting order from No.1 to 6 in test match for india as follows- 1. shikhar dhawan 2. murli vijay (i prefer ajinkya rahane, but may be, dhoni not) 3. cheteshwar pujara 4. virat kohli 5. rohit sharma 6. ms dhoni

  • on December 2, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    '@Prabhakar Muthukrishnan,

    Philander is more of a seam bowler than a swing bowler much in Barnes/Bedser/Fazal Mahmood mo

  • on December 2, 2013, 15:18 GMT

    @smahuta. If Vernon philander is not a swing bowler, what is he, an out and out fast bowler!!?? Hope you have watched the recent series of Pak and Sri Lanka in SA. Whenever the openers and one down dented the new ball, even the weak Pakistani batsman made runs against them. Younis scored a century in a match when the top three made a few runs. Similarly, when Tilakaratne Dilshan did well at the top, Sangakara and Samaraweera below scored centuries. Even India during their 2010 tour made decent starts- not massive and reaped the rewards. We almost won the series remember mate. If not a stubborn resistance from Jaques Kallis and Mark Boucher (whose place was at stake) South Africa would have lost the series.

  • inswing on December 2, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    All this waxing poetic is simply too early. None these guys have played substantial amount of cricket overseas apart from Kohli. They are all kings at home, but that is always the case with Indian batsmen. Let them tour SA, Aus, and Eng, and wheat will be separated from the chaff.

  • on December 2, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    @Akshay Patil, calm down mate. I've said it numerous times on here, Vijay was the top scorer in the series v Australia, which was the last series before the West Indies came over and he out scored Dhawan against the West Indies (although not the best comparison). Back your team, let the youngsters have their chances, even the greats had their chances when they were younger.

  • on December 2, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    Excellent article, only weak comparison or link here is Vijay. Not sure if he has the temperament to succeed. Keeping a very low expectation in SA for these young guns. Hopefully, in couple years the transition succeeds.

  • A.Ak on December 2, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Finally everyone at a place where they belong. RSharma - a player better suited to Test than in limited overs, so as Pujara and Vijay. Kohli/Dhawan in stroke making, an all-rounder in Jadeja / Ashwin, MSD has improved a lot with bat in Test matches, accurate Ojha, exciting young fast bowling unit and Zak is coming back. I can see a Winning team now.

  • Smahuta on December 2, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    @Prabhakar Muthukrishnan Hate to break it to you but you have it all wrong about the SA bowling and conditions. Firstly, Philander is not a swing bowler and does not rely on shine to get wickets. If you think they will only have to last 5 overs against steyn then they will be fine, you are sorely mistaken. He is known to be at hist fastest and most dangerous near the end of a day rather than at the beginning of one. Lastly, the SA attack does not waver after you have 50 on the board, it is relentless. One quality bowler after another on very seamer friendly wickets, there is literally no letup, which is why only the best batsmen score runs there, especially at the wanderers. If Indias can score 250 in the first innings at the wanderers, they will have done exceptionally well. Will be a good series, but not great, I cannot call a 2 match series great, no matter how the cricket might be. If

  • on December 2, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    Well I dont think Murli vijay deserves any more chances We should bring Ajinkya Rahane in for him ,

    Pujara at 3 , Kohli at 4 , Rohit at 5 and Dhoni at 6 This is the strongest batting line up in the world.

  • on December 2, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    good article but the comparisons r not that apt as far as the technique of the current crop goes with the fab four. Sehwag never went front foot to the pacers early on & as often as shikar does. he was more of a stand & deliver abit like gayle. And for kohli he's more of a ponting the way he goes hard at the ball esp for hook & pull on front foot. To me rohit reminds much of young sachin who slowly settled b4 stepping on the gas. Pujara comes closest to dravid in terms of patience & focus. Well india is indeed blessed to move on so swiftly from fab four to current potential fab four.

  • vatsap on December 2, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    It would be great if the young guns click, I do get reminded of the 1999 tour to Australia. Much was made of Devang Gandhi, Sadagoppan Ramesh, Kanitkar and Vijay Bharadwaj, apart from failures from Dravid (who had his worst tour), inconsistent batting from Ganguly and VVS.

    It would be very early days to rate the new batsmen, till they perform consistently in Test and in Test matches abroad.

  • on December 2, 2013, 11:58 GMT

    the ability to adapt and challenge the most difficult situations is more important for this young guns who is gonna face one of the hostile bowling attacks in today's cricketing world.murali vijay ,well best wishes young man.I really wanna see him standing unfazed after the first spell from dale steyn is over.to me,vijay is going to face the toughest challenge in his career .shikhar dhawan and virat kohli will be tested under these conditions in tests.poojara & rohit seems to be the ones having a good back foot technique to counter this circumstances.The indian batting line up will have to overcome the hostility of dale steyn ,the pace and bounce of morne morkel and the arithmetical accuracy of veron philander.if they think they can take a rest after all this bombing ,here comes the king himself .jack kallis is still the same old bowler who gives the crucial break through s .so there is no such thing such as getting more runs from the fifth bowler stuff even if a spinner is playing

  • ravi_hari on December 2, 2013, 11:41 GMT

    Well written article. Truly a new era has begun in Indian cricket. With none of the big 5 in the team the incumbents have to carry a legacy which put India on the summit of test and ODI cricket. A short tour to SA will not do any good or damage. However, the real test will start from the NZ tour. Adjusting to the pitches, weather conditions and more able bowlers will test the present lot. Also they will be tested if our bowling fails. What has helped these young batsmen till date were - familier conditions, weak opposition, penetrative bowling, peak form. All these will change once you step on foreign soil. Do these blokes have it in them to sustain the brilliance or are they just a flash in the pan? Time will tell. However, it will be exciting to see a young side take on the world no.1 and the most experienced side in the world

  • spinkingKK on December 2, 2013, 11:30 GMT

    @Lodhisingh, I also remember that series. I don't think you were right. True, Dravid had no idea in that tour. But, Laxman, even though he couldn't convert into big knocks, was middling the ball well even before that sydney century. I was calling for Ganguly to be made captain at that time. Because, he was making some 60's couple of times and looked to be the most confident of the lot. Overall, they didn't play well as a team, agreed. There was another guy called Jacob Martin who looked like a better test player, but was given a chance only in ODI's.

  • Sir_Ivor on December 2, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    India have always done reasonably well in South Africa from the latter's coming back to international cricket. It is quite possible nevertheless of not the whole team being successful all at once on this tour. But I am sure many of them will rise to expectations. In any case one must not forget that even teams like England and Australia have crumbled for little or nothing in the rainbow nation. So let us all wish this young team the best of luck to grit it out and bring out their collective skills in combating Steyn,Philander,Morkel and probably Imran Tahir.They have inherited a very rich legacy which has caused just green envy in many people close to us. I hope the new order shows them that they truly belong perhaps even more than the masters of an earlier era.

  • Romanticstud on December 2, 2013, 11:06 GMT

    How can you use other players to describe new kids on the block ... each has their own skills, strengths and weaknesses ... let them develop their own character based on their strengths and let them learn from their weaknesses ... Good luck to the young team as they progress to unswum waters and let their talents grow from strength to strength that they too will have names of their own like Kapil Dev, VVS Laxman, Dravid, Ganguly, SRT, Javagal Srinath before them ... Let us see in 20 years the names of Rohit, Dhawan, Kholi, Pujara ... in statguru among the top names ... Do not put expectations on the guys ... you could ruin their careers ...

  • on December 2, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Very lovely article; I particularly enjoyed the detailed metaphors for each of the batsmen! Also- didn't just fall for the stereotypes (Pujara vis-a-vis Dravid& SRT vis-a-vis Kohli)!

  • on December 2, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    I think India needs to learn from its 2003-04 tour to Australia when Sehwag and Akash Chopra regularly provided it good starts- not big - but significant 50-80 odd runs. This way they were able to dent the new ball after which the attack became an up and down one more or less. The same strategy should work in SA too. Minus the shine Vernon Philander cannot do much. If they are able to see off the 1st 5-6 over spell of Dale Steyn (wherein he gives his everything), India can prosper,as South Africans are not much into reverse swing. If they are able to score anything above 350 it will be fine, for if the ball is swinging and seaming, then Zaheer and co will also be more than a handful for the South Africans.

  • heathrf1974 on December 2, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    Really looking forward to this series. It will give a good indication where India are in the current pecking order of world cricket.

  • on December 2, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    You have to comment and judge based on what you saw, not on how they will perform/fare in future, whether it is 18 months or 15 years. If you reserve your judgment waiting for a future performance, you can keep looking into the future until this bunch retires! To be fair to them, appraise them on most recent performance. If they delivered what is expected of them, hail them. If they didn't, you have a right to question their place in the side and demand replacement. Unnecessary comparisons with other greats or calling them flat track bullies smacks of ignorance/jealousy.

  • Rocky_Team on December 2, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    @heartbreakerz. Why is that Aus/ENG can't play on flat tracks in subcontinent? Is flat track available only for Indian batsman? Please note that Spin bowling is also a skill and a legal form of bowling. So, if western batsman have not learned that rt of playing a quality spin bowling, its their shortcoming.

  • screamingeagle on December 2, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    @Cricket Don XI, I think it is more about visuals. Kohli being of the frame he is, lean and tall, lends more to being visually more correct than a short Tendulkar. I have to say that there is a crispness to his batting when compared to Sachin. The article is a good one, but the next few overseas tours will seperate the boys from men in my opinion. I am still not sure about M. Vijay. Kohli and Pujara look decent, whether they will blossom into something more substatial depends on how they tackle the conditions abroad. Dhawan & Rohit.....Still question marks, but they are going someplace where we will get answers either way. :) Hope for the best.

  • orangtan on December 2, 2013, 8:54 GMT

    "Wispy,dreamy rhythms of VVS". I love that. Good luck to the younger brigade and let the 3 ODIs be a learning curve, don't worry if we get whitewashed and don't compare with Pakistan's 2-1 series win, their bowling is far superior to India's !! It's the Tests, alas only two, that the new batters will be judged on.

  • Dickdestardly on December 2, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    "Flat track bullies" (heartbreakerz) a sentiment shared by the late Tony Greg. One thing I have never come to understand is why the opposing team complain playing on a flat track??? Aren't they also playing on the same flat track as the Indians. Shouldn't the visiting teams be scoring as many as runs as the Indians or even more if they are as good as them Indians....Flat tracks should advantage both teams however, the Indians win on these flat tracks...Do people even try and reason things out before they start bleating out the rhetoric picked up on the television on forums like these.

  • Lodhisingh on December 2, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    I dont think it would make much of difference if these guys fail in SA. I still remember how Dravid, ganguly and Laxman(apart from one innings) had absolutely no clue in their first tour to Aus in 99-00. But, they turned out well in the end. Its about trusting these guys to do well and backing them up.

  • heartbreakerz on December 2, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    they are untested so far...the next 18 months will tell whether they are really good or just another group of flat track bullies...till then we should reserve our judgement...

  • on December 2, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    This will be a test for indian team.Its steyn,morkel and philander versus kohli,dhawan,rohit and pujara.

  • balajik1968 on December 2, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    The next 15 months will test these guys out. Either they will emerge as world class players or they will go into oblivion. The one guy I pick as most likely to fail is Murali Vijay. Dhawan has done well in India, we need to see how he does overseas..

  • BackStreetBowler on December 2, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Nice one Krishna. I can see the reason for your optimism and hope with this new lot. However, the SA tour will be a real indicator of times to come. Having said that, I do not think we should be up in arms (as is our wont) if these guys fail. A long rope is definitely a worthwhile investment.

    They are still only green shoots replacing the massive redwoods. But these green shoots give hope nonetheless.

  • Joe-car on December 2, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    @Abhinandan Rout___Words. Mouth. Took. I think the biggest problem with these young lads is that they play too far out in front of their bodies and play with hard hands and throw their arms at the ball. As for Pujara, well, the guy simply oozes class.

  • on December 2, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    Vijay and Dhoni inspire no hope of being able to play the Saffers with their minimalist foot movement. Dhawan and Kohli look capable of only one counter-attacking/ defiant innings each. Only Pujara and to a lesser extent Rohit seem to have the technique to counter Steyn, Philander and Morkel. But going through Rohit's dismissals in the West Indies ODIs (fishing outside off), your faith takes a hit. It will probably be a question of leaving balls outside off, and those people who do it well and wait for any loose stuff will do well.

  • GRVJPR on December 2, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Where this team will be better will be in running between the wickets and athletiscism. On bigger grounds this will be of great help. Also these boys will do better than dravids average of 30 odd in South africa.

  • on December 2, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    haha...Kohli's timing is explosive. In batting manner, he's more Ponting than Tendulkar, wristy flourish coupled with a dismissive, combative abrasiveness evident most in his hooking and pulling...

    you haven't seen enough tendulkar yet!

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  • on December 2, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    haha...Kohli's timing is explosive. In batting manner, he's more Ponting than Tendulkar, wristy flourish coupled with a dismissive, combative abrasiveness evident most in his hooking and pulling...

    you haven't seen enough tendulkar yet!

  • GRVJPR on December 2, 2013, 4:09 GMT

    Where this team will be better will be in running between the wickets and athletiscism. On bigger grounds this will be of great help. Also these boys will do better than dravids average of 30 odd in South africa.

  • on December 2, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    Vijay and Dhoni inspire no hope of being able to play the Saffers with their minimalist foot movement. Dhawan and Kohli look capable of only one counter-attacking/ defiant innings each. Only Pujara and to a lesser extent Rohit seem to have the technique to counter Steyn, Philander and Morkel. But going through Rohit's dismissals in the West Indies ODIs (fishing outside off), your faith takes a hit. It will probably be a question of leaving balls outside off, and those people who do it well and wait for any loose stuff will do well.

  • Joe-car on December 2, 2013, 5:30 GMT

    @Abhinandan Rout___Words. Mouth. Took. I think the biggest problem with these young lads is that they play too far out in front of their bodies and play with hard hands and throw their arms at the ball. As for Pujara, well, the guy simply oozes class.

  • BackStreetBowler on December 2, 2013, 5:52 GMT

    Nice one Krishna. I can see the reason for your optimism and hope with this new lot. However, the SA tour will be a real indicator of times to come. Having said that, I do not think we should be up in arms (as is our wont) if these guys fail. A long rope is definitely a worthwhile investment.

    They are still only green shoots replacing the massive redwoods. But these green shoots give hope nonetheless.

  • balajik1968 on December 2, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    The next 15 months will test these guys out. Either they will emerge as world class players or they will go into oblivion. The one guy I pick as most likely to fail is Murali Vijay. Dhawan has done well in India, we need to see how he does overseas..

  • on December 2, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    This will be a test for indian team.Its steyn,morkel and philander versus kohli,dhawan,rohit and pujara.

  • heartbreakerz on December 2, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    they are untested so far...the next 18 months will tell whether they are really good or just another group of flat track bullies...till then we should reserve our judgement...

  • Lodhisingh on December 2, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    I dont think it would make much of difference if these guys fail in SA. I still remember how Dravid, ganguly and Laxman(apart from one innings) had absolutely no clue in their first tour to Aus in 99-00. But, they turned out well in the end. Its about trusting these guys to do well and backing them up.

  • Dickdestardly on December 2, 2013, 8:01 GMT

    "Flat track bullies" (heartbreakerz) a sentiment shared by the late Tony Greg. One thing I have never come to understand is why the opposing team complain playing on a flat track??? Aren't they also playing on the same flat track as the Indians. Shouldn't the visiting teams be scoring as many as runs as the Indians or even more if they are as good as them Indians....Flat tracks should advantage both teams however, the Indians win on these flat tracks...Do people even try and reason things out before they start bleating out the rhetoric picked up on the television on forums like these.