The just-concluded Test between India and Australia was an attritional affair. Lasting the entire five days – a rarity in this era – it rekindled the passion of fans who vouch for Test cricket being the best format of the game.
The Indian second innings featured several contrasting Test innings, each of which held its own importance in securing the draw. Rishabh Pant’s pyrotechnics were crucial in pushing the fielders to the fence, as much as Cheteshwar Pujara’s stoic defence was in blunting out the Aussie pace attack. Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin then demonstrated the value of the good old blockathon in saving the Test match.
For a player to be successful in the longest format, he should have the ability to switch gears to do exactly as the team needs. Whether the situation demands playing out the session, or scoring above five runs an over, the batsmen at the top manage the transition seamlessly. Interestingly enough, four of these five batsmen play all three formats, and are equally valuable in all. Here’s a look.
#5 Babar Azam (PAK)
Although he missed out on Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand – an absence that was cited among the reason for the losses – Babar Azam has been a top-order pillar for his team in the longest format. With an average above 45, Babar boasts of an impressive conversion ratio – 5 tons and 15 fifties from 53 innings at the crease.
Known for being one of the most aesthetic batsmen in the modern game, Babar typically plays the ball late, relying on timing rather than expansive footwork. A Test strike rate above 56 also shows the ability to get a move on when needed.
#4 Marnus Labuschagne (AUS)
Emerging out of Steve Smith’s shadow during the 2019 Ashes, Marnus Labuschagne quickly showed an appetite for big runs and occupying the crease. In a remarkable yet short career that has seen him score a fifty-plus score nearly every alternate innings, Labuschagne has a stellar average above 60 and a strike rate near 55.
In the ongoing series against India, Labuschagne has been the most consistent batsman, with 40s when the going was tough and the big fifties in the third match in Sydney. As the leading run-scorer of the series, he has posed problems to the Indian pace attack in particular.
Published 13 Jan 2021, 17:10 IST