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Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: With Pant out, mantle of tackling spinners on Pujara & Iyer

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23: With Rishabh Pant out, mantle of tackling spinners on Cheteshwar Pujara & Shreyas Iyer. Complete analysis of India batters against spin bowling.

Bangladesh vs India, 1st Test, Day 1, Top Performances_ Cheteshwar Pujara-Shreyas Iyer added 149 runs for fifth wicket against Bangladesh on Day 1 _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Pujara & Iyer added 149 runs against Bangladesh for 5th wkt (Source: ©BCCI/Twitter)

India’s batters have been traditionally good against spinners. But with the unavailability of Rishabh Pant who sustained injury due to an accident recently, their strength against the slower bowlers has been considerably hampered.


With the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23 just about a month away, it’s a good time to visit the India batters’ numbers against spinners and see who fares the best amongst the lot against spinners.


Pujara has to step up in the absence of Pant

Cheteshwar Pujara is the only batter in the current mix who has been comfortable against Nathan Lyon & Co in Test matches against Australia since the 2016-17 edition of Border Gavaskar Trophy. The Saurashtra batter has scored 573 runs in 16 innings at an average of 81.86 with two hundreds and one fifty-plus score.


Shreyas Iyer is of course really good against spinners but he hasn’t featured in Tests against Australia. And with Rishabh Pant out of contention due to injury, there is no other batter who averages above 50 against Australia’s spinners in the last six years. KL Rahul was good during the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2016-17 and averages 49 against Lyon & Co since 2017.


Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma really need to up the ante in tackling the Australian tweakers as they average just 27.20 and 20.67, respectively, against the Australian spinners since 2017.


Eng vs Ind, 5th Test, Day 1, Top Performances_ Rishabh Pant raising his bat after scoring 5th Test century. Rishabh Pant scores 146 off 111 balls. _ Walking Wicket (Images: ©BCCI_Twitter)
Pant met a tragic accident recently and will not be available for selection (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

India's batters against Australia spinners since 2017

Player

Innings

Runs

Batting Average

Strike Rate

Cheteshwar Pujara

16

573

81.86

42.07

Ajinkya Rahane

21

272

30.22

39.77

Rohit Sharma

7

62

20.67

42.77

Rishabh Pant

12

291

58.2

68.63

Ravichandran Ashwin

9

78

19.5

35.78

KL Rahul

8

196

49

54.75

Virat Kohli

10

136

27.2

42.77

Mayank Agarwal

4

82

82

67.77

Ravindra Jadeja

9

135

33.75

58.95

Shubman Gill

5

42

42

49.41

Decoding India batters’ overall performance against spin in the last five years (Timeframe – January 1, 2018 to January 12, 2023)

Player

Runs vs All Bowlers

Runs vs Spin

Avg vs all bowlers

Avg vs Spin

Percentage run vs spin

Outs vs all bowlers

Outs vs spin

Percentage outs vs Spin

Virat Kohli

2832

975

41.65

48.75

34.42

68

20

29.41

Cheteshwar Pujara

2613

1047

34.84

65.44

40.06

75

16

21.33

Rishabh Pant

2267

1152

43.60

54.86

50.81

52

21

40.38

Ajinkya Rahane

2105

729

32.89

36.45

34.63

64

20

31.25

Rohit Sharma

1736

686

49.60

62.36

39.51

35

11

31.42

Mayank Aagarwal

1488

656

41.33

72.89

44.08

36

9

25

Ravindra Jadeja

1347

619

46.45

88.43

45.95

29

7

24.13

KL Rahul

1172

242

26.64

48.40

20.64

44

5

11.36

Ravichandran Ashwin

988

400

21.96

28.57

40.48

45

14

31.11

Hanuma Vihari

839

302

33.56

43.14

35.99

25

7

28

Player

Runs vs All bowlers

Runs vs Spin

Avg vs all bowlers

Avg vs Spin

Percentage run vs spin

Outs vs all bowlers

Outs vs Spin

Percentage outs vs Spin

Shubman Gill

728

297

31.65

37.12

40.79

23

8

34.78

Shreyas Iyer

624

407

56.73

67.83

65.22

11

6

54.54

India vs New Zealand, 1st Test, 2021 - Shreyas Iyer raises his bat as he scores century on Test debut (Images_ ©BCCI)
Shreyas Iyer scored century on his Test debut (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant & Cheteshwar Pujara lead the pack with Rohit Sharma at the fourth spot against spinners in Tests

Shreyas Iyer has been the most fluent Indian batter when it comes to facing spinners head-on, with 65.22 per cent of his total runs (407) in Tests coming against spinners between January 1, 2018 and January 12, 2023. However, on the flipside, Shreyas has also got out the highest percentage of times (54,54 pc) to spinners (6 times out of 11). Clearly, India’s spiderman against the spinner’s web lives and dies by the sword when it comes to spinners.


Among India’s current top four batters, namely Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, Pujara is hands down India’s best batter to tackle spin, with 40.38 pc (1047) of his total runs (2613) coming against spinners while only being dismissed on 16 occasions (21.33 pc) by the spinning ball.


India’s highest run-scoring batter in the last five years, Virat Kohli doesn’t really have any outlying numbers against spinners either. Scoring 975 runs (34.42 pc) of his total of 2832 runs against spinners, the former India captain has been dismissed 20 times by the spinners out of his total of 68 dismissals in Tests between January 2018 and end of 2022.


Talking about captains, India’s current captain, Rohit Sharma has faired quite decently against spinners in spite of opening the innings where fast bowlers dominate the new ball. Sharma has 686 runs at an average of 62.36 versus spinners; about 40 pc of his total runs (1736) in the last five years have been against the turning ball.


Bangladesh vs India, 2nd Test, Day 2, Top Performances_Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer shared 159-run stand for 5th wicket in Mirpur Test _ Walking Wicket (Source_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Rishabh Pant averages 54.86 against Spinners since 2018 (Source: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Potential replacements for Rishabh Pant, "The Counter-attacker"

Rishabh Pant, who has been a force to be reckoned with in Test cricket since the beginning of his career, has been tormenting the spinners. Sources have revealed that Jack Leach and Nathon Lyon still have nightmares about Pant's gigantic sixes against them.


However, due to an unfortunate accident, India's counter-attacker against spinners, Rishabh Pant who has scored 1152 runs against spinners which translates to 50.81 pc of his total of 2267 Test runs between January 2018 and December 2022.


Pant will be sorely missed in Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23. In his potential absence, Kona Srikar Bharat, who has got 4707 runs in 135 first-class innings at an average of 37.95, could look to grab the opportunity with both hands, just like the catches he takes behind the stumps. Ishan Kishan is also in the squad and it remains to be seen whether he gets to make his Test debut against Australia.


India could also experiment with KL Rahul as the wicketkeeper; however, with the hullabaloo around workload management and the ODI World Cup this year, Rahul with the gloves on might be a possibility which could be easily ruled out. If India want to build a future team and take a step forward instead of going back to Wriddhiman Saha, the selectors can explore Dhruv Jurel, the 21-year-old Uttar Pradesh wicketkeeper-batter. Jurel was the keeper with the third-highest number of inflected dismissals in Ranji Trophy 2022, with 16 dismissals in 9 innings at a 1.77 dismissal per innings ratio.



Kangaroos include four spinners in their squad

The Kangaroo lineup for the four-Test series against India will be filled with four spinners. With Nathan Lyon being the obvious leader, he will be joined on the tour by Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson and Todd Murphy to trouble India's batters.


Todd Murphy's outstanding domestic performance earned him a spot in the squad alongside their spin spearhead, Nathan Lyon. Todd Murphy was chosen by Cricket Australia’s selectors over Adam Zampa. It will be a fiery contest between India’s batters and Nathan Lyon, who has been fairly good in Test matches in India. Australia’s highest wicket-taker among the active squad, Lyon has picked 34 wickets in the 13 innings he has bowled in India with a strike rate and average of 51.70 and 30.58, respectively.


Surprisingly, apart from Lyon, no other designated spinner in Australia’s squad has ever bowled a single delivery on Indian pitches. Though Australia have the luxury of Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith and Travis Head as batting all-rounders who can roll their arm over if required. It will be interesting to see how they perform when the Indian batters get going.


The first Test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23 between India and Australia will be played at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Nagpur from February 9-13. The second Test will be played in Delhi from February 17-21. In more than a week’s time, the third Test will be played in Dharamsala from March 1-5, followed by the fourth Test in Ahmedabad from March 9-13. Read More: India in home Tests 2013-22: A 100 pc series win-loss record with match win-loss record of 34-2

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