In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, “The adrenaline rush following India’s most memorable season continues unabated. From Australia in November to Pune in March has been an emotional rollercoaster, the magnitude of India’s accomplishments highlighted by extenuating circumstances. Despite having been part of bio-secure bubbles myself, I can’t even imagine what the players have had to endure over the last eight months – starting with the IPL – as they have flitted from one bubble to another.”
India were bundled out for just 36 runs in their second innings in the first Test against Australia in Adelaide, losing the day/night Test by 8 wickets. India bounced back to win the second Test in Melbourne, showed remarkable resilience to draw the third Test in Sydney and won the fourth Test in Brisbane for their second successive Test series triumph on Australian soil.
“The highlight of the season has to be the Test series win in Australia. To me, that will remain India’s greatest Test series triumph. To bounce back the way they did, especially after the Adelaide meltdown and without their captain for the last three Tests against a full-strength Australian side in their own backyard was a little short of extraordinary. Significantly, the result was fashioned by a host of young guns and newcomers, which augurs well for the future,” Laxman added.
Laxman heaped praise on Rishabh Pant who came up with match-winning knocks in Test series wins in Australia and against England at home before sealing his spot in the limited-overs side. Pant also smashed 77 and 78 in the last two ODIs against England as India won the series 2-1 in Pune.
“The undisputed star of the show, across formats, has to be Rishabh Pant. His growing maturity and situational awareness manifested itself each time he batted. Equally significantly, I am amazed at the grand strides he has made as a wicketkeeper, especially on difficult pitches at home against England during the Tests when he was scarcely troubled by appreciable turn and unpredictable bounce,” Laxman opined.
Laxman lauded Virat Kohli and his men for their series victories against England in both white-ball formats. India won the 5-match T20I series 3-2 and the ODI series 2-1.
“India can also take pride in their conquest of England in both white-ball formats. To tame the world’s top-ranked side on flat pitches despite losing seven of eight tosses speaks to the character and resilience of a team that has clearly been massively influenced by the infusion of positivity from head coach Ravi Shastri. A welcome development is flexibility in the batting order and Virat Kohli’s sustained willingness to bat out of his comfort zone,” Laxman wrote.
But Laxman expressed his concern over the decline in the quality of Indian spin bowling. In the second ODI against England on Friday, Kuldeep Yadav conceded 84 runs off his 10 overs without a wicket. This was after he was tonked for 68 runs off nine overs in the first ODI. Yuzvendra Chahal, who has been often been taken to the cleaners in T20Is, was rested for all three ODIs against England.
“There still are a couple of areas of concern, though, pertaining to limited-overs cricket. With three World Cups lined up over the next two and a half years, there is a pressing need to ensure the presence of a sixth bowling option at all times. More alarming is the steady decline in the quality of spin bowling in the 50-over format, specifically. Lack of skillsets will be exposed more damningly in this variant. Yuzvendra Chahal seems to have lost the confidence of the team management and Kuldeep Yadav has been out of sorts for a while. With the 50-over World Cup more than two years away, it is imperative that the net is cast far and wide and personnel capable of taking wickets in the middle overs identified and persisted with so that they grow into their roles by the time of the mega event,” Laxman added.
Laxman also lauded umpire Nitin Menon who officiated in the India-England series and gave great decisions on challenging wickets.
“A word of praise for Nitin Menon is in order. He is in his early days as an international umpire but his composure and decision-making have been impeccable, and I see him having a long and illustrious career at the highest level,” Laxman concluded.