India in England 2011 August 29, 2011

Abhinav positive despite tough baptism


A solitary half-century, a near king-pair, an average shading 20.00 and three different opening partners in his first five matches - the numbers are indicative of how tough Abhinav Mukund's baptism into Test cricket has been, but he is encouraged by the way he has come through.

"The results don't show how much progress I made," Abhinav told ESPNcricinfo. "I have definitely got the belief that I could do well and there's so much that I have learned. It was a tough couple of tours [West Indies and England], but I can take a lot of confidence out of them."

Abhinav was far from the reckoning at the start of the season but injuries to Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gave him a chance in the West Indies alongside his Tamil Nadu opening partner M Vijay. His performance on that tour sealed the third opener's slot for England ahead of Vijay, but Abhinav insists he will always look up to his "senior partner" in whose company he has amassed runs for his state.

"I've been opening with Vijay since I started playing at the domestic level [so] it was really good to open with him in my first three Tests," Abhinav said. "Both of us know that there is competition, but that doesn't affect our equation. He has helped me a lot in the domestic set-up, where we have had long partnerships and spent a lot of time in the middle."

Abhinav dropped out of the XI with Sehwag returning for the last two Tests against England, despite his century batting at No. 3 in the tour game against Northants, and he played no further part in the tour. The setback did not affect Abhinav, who admitted that shoehorning him into the XI for Edgbaston would have upset the team's combination.

"I batted at No. 3 in the tour game only to give Dravid a break," Abhinav said. "I wanted to get a few runs and put some pressure on the management. At the end of the day, I believe that opening batsmen should open. [However] I don't really mind playing lower down the order if slots open up there and I can contribute."

Abhinav's debut coincided with that of the new India coach, Duncan Fletcher, who he says has had a positive influence on his batting. "Duncan hadn't seen me much before the West Indies tour," Abhinav said. "There were a lot of pointers he gave me, small things. The wickets in West Indies were a lot bouncier than I expected - especially Jamaica and Barbados. He showed me how to play much closer to the body, which was very helpful for someone like me who has grown up batting on South Indian wickets. It is something that I can use when playing on wickets with bounce and movement."

Walking out with different partners on a regular basis did not, he said, affect his mindset. "You can't control injuries, especially on-field ones as happened to Gautam," Abhinav said. "I had played with Dravid before [in the West Indies], and opening with him wasn't a big difference since he comes in at No. 3."

Abhinav's biggest challenge in England came at Trent Bridge where he chose to take first strike in the second innings despite being on a king pair. "I really wanted to take the first ball, no matter what," he said. "I wanted to back myself and taking first strike was a positive move. It was very important that the openers showed a sign of solidarity, since the team revolves around the start the openers make."

Like in the first innings, Abhinav edged his first ball into the cordon, but Tim Bresnan put down a simple catch. Abhinav could not cash in, though, and managed only three as India sank against a bouncer barrage.

"It was a really good ball," Abhinav said about the James Anderson outswinger that nearly gave him the ignominy of two first-ballers. "Considering it was a good ball, I could have got a king pair but I didn't. At the end of the day, though, I didn't get too many either. I should have carried on."

Abhinav's batting has reminded several cricket followers of the former Tamil Nadu and India opener Sadagoppan Ramesh. Abhinav said his team-mates, including Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, refer to him as 'Taki', which used to be Ramesh's nickname. "Apparently, even my mannerisms off the field are similar to his," he said. "It is nothing conscious, since I haven't seen Ramesh bat much. By the time I got my break into the Ranji side, he had moved on to other things."

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sundhar on August 31, 2011, 9:16 GMT

    Mukund is left handed dravid for Future indian test team.Raina should learn from him in test matches

  • Don on August 30, 2011, 19:21 GMT

    @ TRAM these were not particularly bowler friendly don't score the amount of runs England did on bowler friendly strips, after all the ball hardly hooped about.

  • TR on August 30, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    Mark my word. Abhinav will be the pillar of India for the next decade. People who judge him by looking at the scores in Eng are wrong. You cant judge a horse by putting twice the load on it. (bowler-friendly conditions). Yes, it would have been great if he had scored a hundred in England. But did anyone else look like making hundred in England? Even Dravid got chances by way of dropped catches during his batting. Abhinav needs that extra luck that Dravid possesses. With both India openers (Gambhir/Sehwag) and every one failing miserably, we dont wan to throw an youngster who did ok in the worst conditions.

  • Raj on August 30, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    Poor guy. When he scored 100 in practice game that is enough to play 3rd test instead of Raina. But Raina so power full in Indian cricket now. It is not easy to vacate him even he play miserly for next 10 tests. I am expecting next victim in row will be Rahane. There are so many lost chances start from Tiwary, Badri, Puraja, Mukund and now Rahane. List will grow, but Indian middle order will not change for next 10 years, same set of people again and again going to play.

  • Partha on August 30, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    Abhinav did ok with the chances he got. Senior openors like Gambhir struggled in England but some people here question the chances Abhinav got? Why don't they question Gambhir? What has Gambhir done so far in test matches abroad? I don't think he did remarkably in South Africa and he failed in England as well.

    I hope Rahane gets his chances but people judge him against Abhinav and call abhinav a failure when Rahane hasn't even played an international game. It's pure regionalism. Everyone wants player from their state and city in the Indian team...

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    Definitely, he's worth a player to watch out... he has performed better in a series where only a few performed.. considering the bouncy tracks he has played all his 5 matches, he certainly is a good prospect... looks competent enough !!!

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Mukund still has a lot to learn and he isnt 100% ready for test cricket just yet, if he works hard one day he might be a regular in the Indian team

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    A.Mukund is one of the best batsman Tamilnadu has produced in recent times.... he is having excellent domestic record for past three years..... Surely he will prove himself in Indian Team for the future..... Selectors what him to give few more chances.....

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Abhinav Mukund must be given more chances by the Indian selectors.

  • Dummy4 on August 30, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    Abhinav Mukund must be given more chances by the Indian selectors.

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