In the recently concluded one-off test against Afghanistan played in Bengaluru, India walloped the visiting side by an innings and 262 runs to register a facile win.
Soon after the one-off Test, the Indians got busy preparing for the tougher tours of Ireland and England in different climatic conditions. The much touted Yo-Yo fitness test -- Anil Kumble's one big contribution to Indian cricket during his short span as coach -- left two in-form players out of the senior and India A squads.
With not much to crow about the two-day Test win, the Indians were straightaway put through the Yo-Yo tests. When one looks at the test, it appears all too simple for anyone to clear. But not so easy as Mohammad Shami, Ambati Rayudu, and Sanju Samson realised.
What is more intriguing and shocking is that both Rayudu and Samson were brilliant in the outfield and took some marvelous catches, unless the argument is that the two made simple catches look spectacular! They did not look all that sloppy even while batting even though both were victims of run-outs.
Rayudu, in particular, scored 602 runs for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League to force his way back into the India squad for the limited-overs tournaments and was replaced by Suresh Raina, who had himself failed the test twice a year and a half ago. There is no confirmation on whether Shami cleared the fitness regimen within a week after failing, to miss the Afghanistan Test.
If fitness is as much an issue as batting and bowling, then why is Manish Pandey, the fittest of the players touching 18 when the required parameter is 16.1, not picked?
The Yo-Yo test is a variation of the good old beep test and it is developed as part of a series of endurance tests by Danish football physiologist Jens Bangsbo.
One of the various tests sees a player shuttling between two cones set 20 metres apart. He starts on a beep and has to get to the cone at the other end before the beep goes again before turning back to return to the starting cone beating the third beep.
Some experts feel the player failing the test should be given another chance at least a week later, instead of chucking him out summarily.
Ask the Indian stalwarts of yesteryears and they will say that every player in their time knew the amount of fitness he needed to perform at his best and they never believed in these fitness tests which are now applied universally.
But then Ravi Shastri of that vintage era and Virat Kohli are paranoid about Yo-Yo, the players are haunted by it, even if they don't detest it.
(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist and the views expressed are personal. He can be reached at email@example.com)