Moment of truth for Abhinav, Kohli

Moment of truth for Abhinav, Kohli

Young debutants take first tentative steps into demanding cauldron of Test cricket

Batting at the adjacent net, Virat Kohli turned around to offer a few comforting words. That moment, perhaps, was a pointer to the future of Indian cricket.

Mukund, the 21-year-old left-handed opener from Chennai, is certain to make his Test debut on Monday against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Monday. Mukund comes with a huge reputation of being a vastly talented player and his domestic record justifies it as well.

From 40 first-class matches, Mukund has scored 3400 runs at a whopping average of 59.41 with 13 hundreds and nine fifties, an exceptional record by any yardstick. What really facilitated his entry into the team was the amount of runs he scored in the last domestic season, 1211 runs just a few behind his Tamil Nadu and India team-mate S Badrinath.

Playing your first Test match away from home is a tough task even for a gifted youngster like Mukund, but he’s all set to tackle the challenge.

“I have always dreamt about being a part of the Indian Test squad, and I am fully prepared for it, whether it’s abroad or at home. I am confident after scoring some runs in the domestic matches.

“I have interacted with greats of the game like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, so that has also given me a lot of confidence,” Mukund said.

Kohli has a different challenge to confront. His performances in the last one year or so have raised the level of expectations on him, and now his success at the Test level is almost taken for granted. In that context, even a slight failure might bring sharp reactions and groans of disappointment.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni chips in with a point about the necessity to guide these young players. “When you have fresh players in the side, Tests or ODIs, it’s important how you groom them, and what kind of information you give them so that they don’t feel the pressure.

“In that context, the IPL has been a great help because they are used to playing in front of huge crowds, so the nervousness factor is taken care of. The area they need help from the seniors in is how to conduct themselves on and off the field.

“What’s important is to guide them in the right direction and create an atmosphere where they can love the challenge of international cricket,” Dhoni said.

Kohli has already shown that he relishes a challenging situation and thereby belongs to top-flight cricket. Now, it’s the turn of Mukund, and if he can emulate Kohli, then Indian cricket can smoothly take the path of transition.

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