Test cricket is indeed a different ball game, but Suryakumar Yadav with his amazing skill-set and the ability to think out of the box is "perfectly equipped" to play the traditional format, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar opined on Wednesday. (More Cricket News)
In a wide-ranging interview with PTI, Tendulkar spoke about the importance of match-ups, sweep shot against spinners, brilliance of Ravichandran Ashwin and the understated importance of Cheteshwar Pujara, who is gearing up to play his 99th Test at Jamtha on Thursday.
"From entering into T20s and ODIs and now in the Test squad, he has made an incredible impression around the globe. Whoever follows Surya, they fall in love with his ability and way he thinks," Tendulkar said.
"But Test cricket is going to be different. Surya looks perfectly equipped to play Test cricket. Someone of his calibre should be considered along with KL Rahul and Shubman Gill. All three are capable players and I don't want to pass any judgement here but all three are capable enough to walk into the team," he said.
Tendulkar, Test cricket's highest run scorer, did not want to be dragged into the debate on ideal playing XI but said consistency is a must to retain spot in the team.
"I don't want to get into team combinations and all that. But if we get into recent past, Shubman Gill has been in good form and Rahul hasn't been able to contribute, but such is life. You go through these ups and downs. They both are excellent players and to retain position in the team, one has to continue scoring runs," Tendulkar said when asked whether the team management would struggle to finalise the playing eleven.
Talking about India's No. 1 batter Virat Kohli and his return to form in white-ball cricket, Tendulkar said it augurs well for the team ahead of Test series against Australia.
"With the way he has played in last few months, I really liked watching that, very assertive, very certain of what he wanted to do."
Tendulkar would be certainly watching the keen contest between Nathan Lyon and Kohli as that would be one of the great match-ups.
"World cricket needs these kind of rivalries. It is important to have those rivalries and remember when Australia had come in 1998, it was termed Warne vs Tendulkar and I had to remind everyone that it is not Warne vs Tendulkar but Australia vs India. But everyone likes to see such rivalries."
DON'T THINK WE RECOGNISE PUJARA'S TRUE VALUE
Pujara is set to complete 100-Test milestone during the second game of the series at the Kotla in New Delhi. Someone with 7000-plus Test runs in 98 games, Pujara is expected to be another thorn in Aussie flesh.
"I feel Pujara's achievements aren't recognised enough and his importance in the team isn't recognised enough, generally," said the man, who has played an unprecedented 200 Tests.
"He has played magnificently for the country and his contribution has been immense in whatever success Indian cricket team has had," said Tendulkar, who was in fact at the other end when Pujara scored a half-century on his Test debut.
NATHAN LYON WILL ALSO MISS STARC
The Australians will certainly miss Mitchell Starc but for Tendulkar, left-arm pacer's absence might lessen the impact of off-spinner Lyon.
Starc, who comes around the wicket (over the wicket for left-armers) often creates rough with his footmarks in his follow through and that becomes troublesome for right-handed batters (when a spinner operates and exploits rough patch).
"Lyon is a world class bowler and he becomes more effective when Starc is there because of the rough patches created for right handers outside the off stump. These are the things which will come into play."
ASHWIN'S SKILLS AS WELL AS MIND GAMES WILL MAKE THE SERIES MORE ENGAGING
The conventional thought process tells that spinners will come into play when the ball is old but in case of Ravichandran Ashwin, a bit of nip in the morning air and some moisture in the surface could bring him into play in the very first hour, the maestro said.
"I think he is just one short of 450 wickets. Ashwin is a world class bowler and he has been delivering amazing performances for a number of years now. The variation he has is really, really special and he isn't afraid to try out things. He wants to make batter's life uncomfortable and that's how it should be."
"It is all about owning those 22 yards and he has multiple variations which can force a batter to think in different manner and disturb a batter's gameplan. Along with that he likes to play mind games and that is what makes any series far more exciting, interesting and engaging."
RAVINDRA JADEJA IS GOOD ENOUGH TO BAT AT NO.. 6
Jadeja's presence in the eleven lends the requisite balance and Tendulkar believes he is competent enough to regularly bat at number six in Tests.
"Jadeja as a package is tremendous. If you notice in the last few seasons, he has upped his batting and for me he is good enough to bat at No. 6 and played enough crucial innings for India. In bowling also, he recently played a first-class match and got wickets (seven vs Tamil Nadu). He had that unfortunate (knee) injury and players like him will overcome challenges.
"What Jadeja has achieved, he has become a crucial part of this Indian cricket team. A brilliant fielder as well and if I am not wrong, he is eight wickets short of 250-mark. He has also scored 2500 runs. He is in that special league of players, not many guys have been able to achieve in Test cricket."
REVERSE SWING WILL BE A FACTOR
While everyone is talking about the impact spinners will have, Tendulkar said reverse swing will also be crucial.
"The first hour of every morning, seamers will come into play and so will the spinners because in the morning there is going to be that bite in the surface.
"I remember playing one game in Nagpur where spinners dominated the morning session. The odd ball went straight and other one spun viciously. It became difficult for batters to gauge which one will turn and which one will come straight. It's going to be both and reverse will come into play in this series."
WE DON'T EXPECT TRACKS THAT AID SPINNERS IN AUSTRALIA
A challenge of being an international cricketer is to adapt to different kinds of surfaces and Tendulkar feels that when a team comes to India, they should be well aware that pitches will offer turn.
"When you become an international cricketer, you are supposed to play on any kind of surface in the world. Those are challenges of travelling. When we go to Australia, we don't expect turners there. We know nature of the surface is going to be a little bouncy and more pace in it and upfront movement of seam.
"So is the case with Australian team, when they are in India. They know that there will be turn and nature of the surface will be slowish. They are prepared for that, they have practised with SG balls. Every team prepares to the best of their abilities and it is what happens around them amplify but the team is always in a different space compared to what outsiders are thinking.
"I feel Aussies are prepared to play and face the challenges."