England vs India: What are the members of India's 2014 Test squad doing now?
From the captain to the bowlers, a lot has changed in the last 4 years.
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India will take on England in the first of the five-Test series starting at Edgbaston, Birmingham, August 1. They are touring England for a Test series after four years and the team this time is led by Virat Kohli. India last won a Test series in England in 2007 when Rahul Dravid’s side defeated Michael Vaughan’s home side 1-0 in a three-Test series. India went to England for two more Test series since then and got walloped on both occasions – 0-4 in 2011 and 1-3 in 2014. Can they reverse the trend this time?
Well, the answer to that critical question is buried in the future. As of now, we can ask another question, a lighter one: What are the members of the Indian squad that played the four-Test series in England in 2014 doing now?
1. Mahendra Singh Dhoni:
India’s most successful captain so far, MS Dhoni was the leader of that side which toured England in 2014. But the man couldn’t recover any ground in his second Test series in England, losing it 1-3 (he was also the captain of the Indian side which was thrashed 4-0 in 2011).
Dhoni retired from Test cricket later in 2014 and plays only the limited-over formats as the team’s No.1 wicketkeeper. However, the cricketer, who recently completed 10,000 runs in ODIs, has come under criticism of late for his slow batting and questions are being raised over whether he is an automatic choice for the 2019 World Cup squad.
2. Murali Vijay:
One of the rare successful members of the 2014 squad who is expected to do good in this series as well. Vijay was India’s highest scorer in that series with 402 runs and has been in a good nick of late giving his side hope of doing well again this time. Vijay slammed a century in the last Test that India played against Afghanistan in June besides scoring a fifty in the one-off warm-up match against Essex ahead of the first Test.
3. Shikhar Dhawan:
Shikhar Dhawan made his maiden England tour in 2014 but had a poor form, managing just 122 runs in three Tests before he was replaced by Gambhir. Those were the early days in Dhawan’s international career but in 2018, the left-handed opening batsman has been known to be a weaker scorer on foreign soils. Although he slammed a ton against Afghanistan in his last Test and had a decent outing in T20Is and ODIs against Ireland and England this summer, he might not be an automatic pick for the England Tests despite featuring in the squad.
4. Virat Kohli:
Kohli, the captain of this series, was there in the 2014 series and made the headlines for his horrible form, gathering just 135 runs in 10 innings. All eyes will now be on Kohli’s form in this series, especially after he has smashed several records to create new ones in the last four years. James Anderson will also be watching with keen eyes.
5. Ajinkya Rahane:
The vice-captain of this tour was also in that squad of 2014 though he was in his initial years then, after making debut in Tests in 2013. Rahane has grown as a batsman for sure in these years but he has also earned a name as more of an irregular in the squad, even missing out form the playing XI despite being the vice-captain (in South Africa). At 30 now and with 45 Tests under his belt, Rahane is certainly a more integral part of this side and occasional experience in Test captaincy has also helped him grow as a leader.
6. Gautam Gambhir:
Gambhir featured in all the Indian squads touring England since 2007 and has seen the highs and lows closely. The 36-year-old opening batsman, however, has lost out in the intense competition for places in the national team over the last few years and played his last Test for India in 2016, against the same opponents at home. The 58-Test veteran was still a name to recognise in the Indian Premier League till recently but had a poor experience to taste this year when he stepped down from the captaincy of the Delhi Daredevils midway into the tournament and also lost his place in the playing eleven. The DDCA recently invited Gambhir as a special member for the development of the state’s cricket.
7. Rohit Sharma:
It was still sunny days for Rohit Sharma in Tests. Less than a year old in the longest format, Sharma was seen as the big star in Tests in the post-Tendulkar era, thanks to his mega arrival around the same time when the Master Blaster departed, but the script did not unfold as desired. Rohit Sharma was given a chance ahead of Rahane in South Africa which he could not utilise and now, he has been snubbed for the England Tests. The man went to spend vacation in Prague with his wife. Four years have been a long period for the dashing limited-over cricket batsman.
8. Cheteshwar Pujara:
One of the mainstays of this series, Pujara was there in the 2014 squad as well. But it was a forgettable tour for the No.3 batsman as he could manage just one fifty in five Tests. Pujara is also not in great nick this time as well, getting out cheaply in the warm-up game after a lean county season. But the team management has kept high hopes on him.
9. Stuart Binny:
Son of former Indian all-rounder Roger Binny, Stuart made his debut in Tests in that 2014 series and also hit a fifty in his debut game at No.8 but subsequently, never looked a player who could deliver on the international stage with authority. He lasted just six Tests, 14 ODIs and three T20Is and besides producing a magical 6 for 4 runs in the ODIs as India’s bowling figures in the 50-over format, did not contribute much. The IPL 2018 also went ordinary for the 34-year-old Karnataka all-rounder.
10. Varun Aaron:
The 28-year-old Jharkhand pacer was one of India’s fast bowlers in the 2014 squad and took five wickets in two Tests but hasn’t played an international game for India after 2015. Making his Test debut in 2011, Aaron did not last beyond nine games (as many games in ODIs as well) with 18 wickets at an average of 52.61. The fast bowler, however, plays for his home state Jharkhand in the domestic sector.
11. Ravichandran Ashwin:
Ashwin is in a peculiar sort of position. Though he features in the current squad as he had in 2014, his place is not confirmed despite being the bowler with the most Test wickets (316) in the current squad. The arrival of Kuldeep Yadav in the Test squad has put in jeopardy Ashwin’s pairing with Ravindra Jadeja. Ashwin did well in the last Test he played against Afghanistan at home and the warm weather conditions in England might see him lucky in this series.
12. Ravindra Jadeja:
Jadeja was a prime member of India’s spin department in the 2014 tour and took nine wickets in four games. This time around, the 36-Test veteran will have a tough competition from Kuldeep and unless India decide to play three spinners, keeping in mind England’s unusually warm and dry weather, Jadeja might have to spend more time in the stands.
13. Ishant Sharma:
The lanky pacer played a key role in India’s only win the 2014 series, taking 7 for 74 in the second Test at Lord’s. Expectations are high from him in this series to spearhead a strong looking Indian pace attack and trouble the hosts. The 29-year-old fast bowler had a decent county season this year and also picked three wickets in the three-day game versus Essex to show that he is in a good shape.
14. Mohammed Shami:
The 27-year-old pacer was quite young in international cricket when he played in the 2014 series (took five wickets in three Tests) but will be one of the visitors’ key bowlers to make a difference in this series. Shami had a good show in South Africa earlier this year and despite the troubles on his home front, looks determined not to allow that to affect his game. He though went wicketless in the game versus Essex.
15. Ishwar Pandey:
It remained a puzzle why the 6-ft-plus fast bowler from Madhya Pradesh never got to play for India in any format despite travelling with the squad for more than a year. Pandey was an idle member of the 2014 squad to England and didn’t get a match despite India losing a lot of games. His exclusion had even annoyed the legend Sunil Gavaskar. He nevertheless is a regular for MP in the domestic circuits.
16. Naman Ojha:
The MP wicketkeeper was another player in that 2014 squad who remained a traveller all throughout. Though it was expected that in the presence of Dhoni and Wriddhiman Saha, there was very little chance for Ojha, 35 now, to get a chance. Ojha remained a one-Test wonder.
17. Wriddhiman Saha:
The wicketkeeper featured in the 2014 squad but did not get to play any match because the skipper was too fit to miss a game. Saha is not there this time as he has been prone to injuries in the recent past. He hasn’t played a game since an IPL match on May 25 this year.
18. Bhuvneshwar Kumar:
Bhuvneshwar Kumar featured in the 2014 squad and was a certainty in this year’s Test squad as well unless injury ruled him out at the last moment. Kumar played in the limited over series before the Test series. In 2014, Kumar had done well not only with the ball (two five wickets) but also with the bat.
19. Pankaj Singh:
The 33-year-old medium pacer from UP was one of the members of the 2014 squad but could make little impact in the two Tests he played. Both his Tests were in that series and he could manage just two Test wickets at an average of 146. His only ODI came way back in 2010. He has been a performer in domestic cricket but could not do the same on international stage. Singh plays for Rajasthan in domestic circuits and was the joint leading wicket-taker in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season.