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Rahul Tripathi: The new Sehwag?

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Rahul_Tripathi_IPL_India_CricketLooking at some of his innings, I can definitely say that Rahul Tripathi can be moulded into the new Sehwag at the top of the Indian batting. He has very good hand-eye coordination. Hopefully he has the clear head as Sehwag had.

The Indian cricket team has transformed into a formidable force in all formats of the game with a wonderfully balanced team. But the opening slot is still an area of concern. After a decade of devastation and dominance from Sehwag, a replacement is yet to be found. 

India tried out various combinations but failed to get it right. Players like Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane performed well, but consistency is still not good enough. KL Rahul has been performing well in all three formats. But the other openers are format specific. While Murali Vijay has some decent scores under his belt in the longest format, Shikhar Dhawan has failed to impress in the past year and a half in all three formats. Rohit Sharma is sheer class, but consistency has been a question mark throughout his career. 

With some important tournaments coming up, it won’t be a surprise if we see Rahul Tripathi getting a shot as an opener especially with the form he is in. Although India has already announced the squad for the Champions Trophy, where they went ahead with Rohit, Shikhar and Rahane as openers.

Sehwag has been a revelation for more than a decade in all formats of the game specially in the longest format surprisingly. Not just Sehwag, players having good hand eye coordination and clear mind has had success in all formats at the top of the order. Players like Jayasuriya, Gayle, David Warner, Tamim Iqbal are devastating players. One of the reasons for their success is that they had the early advantage of field being up in the circle. 

 

One common factor among all these greats is that they try to hit proper cricketing shots and have wonderful hand eye coordination. Tripathi is of the same mould. The opposition blinks their eyes and within the first 10 overs they are reaching a score of 100 in any format. 

We have seen David Warner completing a century before lunch. The effect of this kind of player is that the team not only gets a brisk start in all formats, but they enjoy ample time to pick up 20 wickets in Tests.

Coming back to Tripathi’s game, he already has hit six sixes in an over 2 times in local tournaments. Whatever may be the format or stage, hitting six sixes is quite a feat. One has to have the skills and the mindset. A versatile batsman with a wide range of shots can take the attack to the opposition from the first ball.

He has been consistent for Pune Supergiant this year, giving them good starts. The match against KKR where he scored 93 was one of the finest innings in this tournament. In the previous matches, he dominated some world class fast bowlers. The question arose about his skills against the spinners. In his innings against KKR, we saw 2 of the craftiest spinners around (Narine and Kuldeep) taken to the cleaners by Tripathi. 

 

He does not mind stepping out to the spinners or the fast bowlers and does not hold himself back in any situation. In a game where wickets kept falling, he continued attacking. He got out in the 90s playing an aggressive shot, showing that he is not worried about the milestone. Rather, he concentrates on hitting the ball if it is there to be hit (shades of Sehwag).

 

The good part about his batting is that he has a wide range of shots and can offer 2 different shots for same kind of delivery. Lofted cover drives and pull shots are not too common among Indian batsmen, but he hits those with ease and can clear the boundary. 

Although his domestic career for Mumbai has not yet blossomed, I feel he is one for the big stage. We have already seen IPL bringing out the best of some players who did not perform very well on the domestic circuit, like Ashwin, Dhawan & Kuldeep Yadav. We have also seen top quality Ranji performers not blossoming in IPL like Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary

Yes, it is too early to say whether Tripathi can fill in Sehwag’s boots, but he is worth a shot. I’m not sure if he can perform with the weight of a billion dreams on his shoulders, but if a player like him clicks, they can be an asset for a long time. I feel this talented batsman can be moulded into a Sehwag role with a little bit of initial backing from Captain and Coach. 

I do not know how he will perform in an India jersey. But with the form he is in and the problem India is facing with the openers, Tripathi is definitely an option as he can be devastating in the top which will give India some much needed momentum at the start of the innings.

 

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