Ahead of the first of three Test matches against Sri Lanka, Gautam Gambhir has suggested that Virat Kohli should play Kuldeep Yadav in all of them. The southpaw further opined that India should hand Hardik Pandya his Test debut only on pacer friendly wickets in the island nation.
India are set to kick off the Ravi Shastri era tomorrow when they take on Sri Lanka in the first of three Test matches in Galle. But on the eve of the first Test, Gambhir had a word of advice for Virat Kohli about his team selection for the series. In conversation with ESPN Cricinfo, Gambhir said India should look to play three spinners, with Kuldeep Yadav who had made a successful Test debut against Australia earlier this year, featuring in all three games.
“I think you have to play Kuldeep (Yadav), then you have R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja obviously.” However, the 35-year-old had a specific reason for picking each of the three spinners, saying, “All three are different bowlers. Sri Lanka have four or five left-handers in their playing XI so you would want Ashwin there. Jadeja he can contain, he is someone who is very accurate as well. Kuldeep because no one has seen him and he is going to be your wicket-taking option. He is going to be a mystery option, an attacking option as well.”
Further, though India relied heavily on their pacers during their hugely successful home season which helped them become the no.1 Test team in the world, Gambhir believes that the spinners will hold the key against Sri Lanka. “You would rather play three spinners and two best seamers. Shami and Umesh at the moment. These would be my five bowlers. You got the luxury that Ashwin and Jadeja bat as well. You bat reasonably deep and then you got five different bowlers, and you have got the ability to take 20 wickets,” said Gambhir.
Earlier today, Kohli strongly hinted at Hardik Pandya being handed his Test debut at some point during the series and though Gambhir seconded Kohli’s opinion on the same, he also had a word of caution. “Unless it’s a wicket which is absolutely green. I would still pick Kuldeep, I would pick him for all three Test matches. He is someone who is going to give you wickets all the time. If the wicket is green and has something for fast bowlers then I might look to play Hardik in place of Jadeja. I know it’s going to be a hard call, tough call because Jadeja has done unbelievably well for you but then it is only because of the conditions. Seeing conditions in Sri Lanka and having played there, I would play three spinners.”
Finally, sharing his views on the series, Gambhir backed India to win the series given that Sri Lanka are coming off the back of a miserable ODI series against Zimbabwe. “If I compare both teams on paper then India is far more dominant, that’s why they are no.1 in the world and Sri Lanka is no.7. Had Sri Lanka played good cricket, they wouldn’t have been no.7. The only option they have is if they play on a wicket like they played in SSC against India last time, the third Test match. It had lots for the fast bowlers. Sri Lanka attack is about the bowlers who can bowl 130-135 so they need conditions. They are not someone who are express and can exploit a lot of reverse swing. India have got that with Umesh and Shami. The only option Sri Lanka has is to play on wickets where their bowlers can pick 20 wickets. If they play on wickets which are batter friendly, India is going to run them over because they have the attack to take 20 wickets on any surface,” Gambhir concluded.