India v England: Debutants who shone
India completed their home assignment against England as victorious in all three formats. After a long break during the COVID-19 global pandemic, India’s first home series was in the new normal. Combining all three formats, the two teams played total 12 matches, including 4 tests, 5 T20 Internationals, and 3 One Day Internationals.
Despite a brave fight from England, India eventually won the three series with 3-1, 3-2, and 2-1 scoreline, respectively. Interestingly, England won 10 out of the 12 matches, and India showed great fighting spirit and skill in winning the matches despite not enjoying great luck with the coin. Indians also missed some of their key players like Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, and KL Rahul at various series stages. A few new players made their debut in those three series, and most of them immediately impacted.
Axar Patel (Test):
Axar Patel made his India limited over debut in 2014 against Bangladesh. Since then, he was an irregular member of the squad playing 38 ODIs and 12 T20Is, mostly competing for the spinning all-rounder spot with Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar. Due to Jadeja’s injury during the Australia tour, Indian selectors were looking for another left-arm spinner to complement Ravichandran Ashwin, and Patel fit the bill. He was part of the squad selected to play the first two tests and was all set to make his debut in the series’s first test.
But a knee injury before the first test kept him out of that test. An Indian loss ensured that the team management went for few changes in the squad for the second test, and Patel was included in the squad. In a tricky pitch, India took the upper hand thanks to Rohit Sharma’s classy hundred on day one. After that, the spinners took control. England was blown out for 134 and 164 in their two innings and lost the test match by 317 runs. The spinners took 17 wickets in the match, with Ashwin picking up 8 and Patel getting 7. He bowled like a pro and became only the 9th Indian to pick up a five-wicket haul in a Test debut with 5/60 in the second innings.
It was just the beginning of a great series for Axar. Once he moved to his home ground, the newly renovated Narendra Modi Stadium, he became unplayable under lights with the pink ball. He got the man-of-the-match in just his second test for getting 11 wickets for just 70 runs in that match with six and five wickets in two innings, respectively. He picked up 9 more wickets in the fourth test and finished the series with 27 wickets after another brilliant show in the fourth test. It will be a big headache for the selectors to decide between Patel and Jadeja once the latter will be back.
Ishan Kishan & Surya Kumar Yadav (T20I):
Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav both had a great IPL 2019 and 2020 and played key roles in Mumbai Indians’ middle order in their back-to-back IPL winnings seasons. They got rewarded as they were handed their international debuts in the second T20I against England. Kishan opened the innings with KL Rahul in a tricky chase. India was already under pressure even before Kishan faced a ball as Rahul was dismissed for a six-ball duck. However, the youngster from Jharkhand did not let this impact his thinking and started his international career with a four. He kept playing his shots and added 94 runs with his captain Virat Kohli.
Interestingly, Kishan did not try to play the supporting role to Kohli and dominated the partnership to score 56 runs off 32 balls. He hit 4 fours and four sixes in his quickfire innings and got the man-of-the-match award on his debut. Kishan also played the third T20I without much success and did not find a place in the first eleven in the last T20Is.
Yadav did not get a chance to bat in his first T20I and was surprisingly dropped after just one match, which looked unfair. He was included in the eleven for the fourth T20I and was slotted to bat at number three. He came to bat in the fourth over after Rohit Sharma’s fall and hit the first ball he faced in international cricket for a six over fine leg with a great flick.
It was the start of special innings, and Yadav, or ‘SKY’ as his admiring fans call him, hit all around the park and reached his maiden fifty in his maiden international innings off just 28 balls. He was dismissed controversially for 57, but it could not stop him from getting the man-of-the-match in his debut match. Yadav also played a brilliant cameo in the deciding T20I to score 32 off just 17 balls and helped India post a 200 plus total, which was proved enough for win.
Bot Kishan and Yadav have shown enough sparks in their batting to be called up again, infact Yadav was part of India’s ODI squad also but did not get an opportunity. They proved that they are the next generation of T20 batsmen and can play fearless cricket from their first ball.
Krunal Pandya & Prasidh Krishna (ODI):
Like Kishan and Yadav, all-rounder Krunal Pandya and fast bowler Prasidh Krishna made their debut together during the ODI series’s opening match. Like them, Pandya and Krishna also made an immediate impact on their performance. The elder brother of Hardik Pandya, Krunal, got the first chance to impress as he came to bat in 41st over after his brother’s fall.
India was in a spot of bother with 205/5 on a pitch where 300 was the minimum requirement. On end, KL Rahul was batting, and he and Krunal built a brilliant unbeaten partnership of 112 runs in just 57 balls. Krunal showed his power and never stop himself from playing shots. He also reached his maiden fifty in his debut match, and not only that, his 26-ball fifty was the fastest ODI ever made by a debutant. His innings were decorated with 7 fours and 2 sixes.
In the same match, while bowling, Krishan made his mark. After a costly first spell, including an over where he conceded 22 runs, he made a strong comeback to pick up both England openers in two consecutive overs. He also got rid of Sam billings and Tom Curran to finish the match with 4 for 54. Another record for an Indian debutant was the best ever bowling figure in debut by an Indian. Krunal also picked up one wicket with his left-arm spin.
Both Pandya and Krishan played all three matches in the series as Pandya finished with 95 runs with a strike rate of 128.37 and one wicket. Krishan finished with six wickets with an average of 29. But his economic rate for the series was 6.91. It was high scoring series, but he would still like to focus on this area, especially with so much competition for the team’s fast-bowling spot.
Overall, all five debutants made their mark in their debut series. They looked ready to graduate from domestic cricket to international and looked like they will serve Indian cricket in the long run. Fans and the experts are also impressed, and legends like Sunil Gavaskar want Prasidh Krishna to be considered for Test cricket. This a great certificate for the youngster and shows India’s reach bench strength for any form of the game.