India’s stand-in captain KL Rahul confessed they missed Kuldeep Yadav but didn’t regret leaving him out for an additional fast bowler because a team is selected for all five days and they felt three fast bowlers was the appropriate mix for Mirpur.
Only 11 wickets were taken by quick bowlers, while spinners grabbed 25. Bangladesh scored more in the second innings, putting India’s three spinners under strain in the fourth. The first innings’ discussion about leaving out Kuldeep, the last Test’s Player of the Match, continued into the second.
After the three-wicket victory, Rahul was asked about selection. “If we had Impact Player rule here as in the IPL, I would have liked Kuldeep in the second innings,” he said. “Knowing he had just won the Test for us made the first morning call difficult. We thought quick bowlers and spinners would benefit from the pitch before the game and on the opening day. We wanted to play a well-balanced team. We chose that.
“That was a good choice. The fast bowlers took ten of our 20 wickets. Lots of help and uneven bounce. The ODI experience in Mirpur informed all these decisions. Both spin and pace bowlers were helped in two ODIs here. Both are needed for a four- or five-day Test match. I think a balanced attack was right.”
This pick can be contested, but India’s top four have struggled against spin for a while, at least in numbers. India must win three of four at home in the final series for the second World Test Championship cycle. India should be the favourites after losing just two Tests at home in the last ten years, but even their strongest fans doubt their batting, especially against spin.
“Whatever the conditions, whether it’s seaming or turning, batters will get out,” Rahul remarked when questioned about the shakiness against spin. “Spinners will get out if the pitch helps. You will reach seamen if it helps. We don’t think we’re losing against spinners or quick bowlers.
“If it’s a pattern, you’ll work with your coaches to fix it. We have four crucial home Tests against Australia, as you stated. Pitches should be identical to how we played here. Batters must adapt quickly to spin’s help. Each player is unique and must discover his way. You trust their decision.
“Australia prepares. They’ll inspect the pitches. After doing your best, you can’t control what happens. You take it. We prepare and work. Never perfect. Even if we play spin for a month, we won’t always make hundreds against Australia. It’s all about mindset and how driven you are to produce for the squad. Exciting. Our mistakes and experiences here will help. Return and work on them.”
Due to their form, Rahul and Virat Kohli are under pressure. Rahul was questioned if it was wise to start a high-stakes Test series and try to turn the tide.
“We obviously don’t go into the game thinking of what we may have done prior or what might happen ahead,” he remarked. “We’ll try hard. We shall seize every chance. After a few Tests and being recognised as one of, the team expects you to succeed and get through. You’re thinking that. Do your best. Whatever the format, you want to play your role and do your best for your team and country.
“Not always. I’ve played a little cricket and seen ups and downs, but neither lasts long. Keep looking forward, improving your skills, and looking forward to your next challenge. Playing all three forms makes switching between them difficult.
“I haven’t played Test cricket in a while, and it takes time to get back into the rhythm and remember what you did well. That’s the challenge of playing at this level in any format: adapting and refocusing quickly. That’s exciting. This series’ performances aren’t outstanding. Acceptable. I failed. But I always look forward to improving next time.”
Rahul reflected on the Bangladesh visit with happiness. “Great series. Good experiences, bad ODI series loss. A series loss can reveal a lot about your team and yourself. We need that for the 50-over World Cup.
“The Test series was tough. Bangladesh played great cricket. They still test us. Best series finale. They made it hard and were in the game for the first 30-32 overs, but [R] Ashwin and Shreyas [Iyer] stepped up and finished the job. Great tour. When we return here, those that played will be better equipped.”