Gavaskar’s earnest request to Rohit Sharma. Sunil Gavaskar has made a heartfelt plea to Team India and its captain Rohit Sharma for the Test series against Australia at the end of this year.

India would be rightfully riding high on the success of beating South Africa in Cape Town but at the same time, relieved to have survived a scare. The manner in which the Newlands pitch behaved across the four sessions in two days, anything could have happened. If South Africa could be bowled out for their lowest Test total post readmission of 55, India could lose six wickets for 0 runs and if 23 wickets can fall inside lunch on Day 2 to make this the shortest Test match in history, everything was possible. Nothing could be ruled out on that spicy Newlands surface.

With the series ending in a 1-1 draw, courtesy a hammering in the first Test at Centurion, India must take with them certain learnings, the biggest of all being the tendency of their batting order to fall apart in crunch situations. While some players were already in South Africa having played the T20Is and ODIs, others such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, and a few more were playing their first match of this tour. And even though Kohli and Bumrah stood out, Rohit had a poor outing in all four innings.

Gavaskar's earnest request to Rohit Sharma
Gavaskar’s earnest request to Rohit Sharma

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Gavaskar urges India for overseas preparation (Gavaskar’s earnest request to Rohit Sharma):

To arrest this slide, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar has urged the India captain and the team management to organize a few practice games whenever they tour SENA Nations. India has a busy year in Test cricket ahead in 2024, with the year concluding with them traveling to Australia for a four-Test series featuring the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. For India to avoid batting collapses and give their bowlers a much-needed time to get used to the conditions, Sunny G has stressed on the importance of practice matches.

“The defeat in Centurion is pretty much a pattern for Indian teams touring the SENA countries, where they lose the first Test of the series and then play catch-up for the remainder of the series. The next big series overseas is exactly a year away in Australia, and if India needs to keep the winning momentum of the previous two tours there, then the planning must start now.” Gavaskar wrote in his column for Sportstar.

“The first Test of a five-match series in Australia will likely start in early December, so it does give the Indians time to play a couple if not more, first-class games before the series. Rohit said after the loss in Centurion that these games are no good because the host countries put up second-rate teams, and they get to play on slow pitches. Even if that is true, isn’t it better to get into a rhythm against such opposition than stay at home? Not only can the batters get some runs under their belts, but the bowlers can also go flat out and test themselves.”

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Gavaskar’s perfect plan for Team India

As the former India captain observed, a concerning pattern has emerged. In 2021, India arrived in England for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand at Southampton, only to succumb in a mere three days. The subsequent year brought a trip to Birmingham for the rescheduled fifth Test against England, resulting in yet another convincing defeat. In fact, just last year, the Indian team, fresh off the IPL, landed at The Oval to face Australia in the second WTC final. Once again, the outcome remained unchanged.

“With the relations between the two boards being good, it would make sense if the Indian cricket board wrote to its counterpart and asked for matches against their national champions or the ‘A’ team before the first Test,” pointed out Gavaskar.

“Then, in the week or so gap between the second and third Tests and between the fourth and fifth Tests, there could be another game so that the reserve players get to show their mettle. It’s time to simply think of the best for Indian cricket and not what suits a few individuals, however great they may be.”

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