Is this Indian team as good as it appears

Opinion Sunday 29/August/2021 19:29 PM
By: Anis Sajan, Vice Chairman, Danube group
Is this Indian team as good as it appears

England came back strongly in the third test match beating India by an innings and 76 runs and squaring the series one all.

Going into the third test match, it was England who needed to pull up their batting with only Joe Root looking in form and rest all their batters barring a fifty from Jonny Bairstow, all looked at sea against the Indian seamers and were in fact bowled out in less than 60 overs in the Lords test match giving India the lead in the series.

All the pressure was on England and in fact the great Sunny Gavaskar had predicted India would win this series 3/0 or even 4/0 but the way England bounced back at Leeds in the third test match , the tide has turned so much that it looks like a repeat of the 2014 series where after the first test match was drawn, India went on to win the Lords test but then lost the last three test matches to lose the series 3-1.

In fact when the 2018 series had begun, India were again favourites going into the series but lost the series 4-1. Everyone said that India did not seize the vital moments in 2018 series and that is why they lost the series but the score line said something else.

In the current series England did not have the services of Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer as well as Chris Woakes due to injury and mental fatigue and their batting on paper also looked weak barring their captain Joe Root whereas India had almost everyone available and fit except for Shubman Gill who had to miss the full tour because of injury. And his place was grabbed with both hands by KL Rahul who is India’s highest scorer with 252 runs. India were in England this time from June 2 and even played the World Test Championship and were acclimatized to the English conditions and were once again said to be favourites going into the series and they did show by dominating the first test and could have won had it not rained at Trent Bridge on the last day but proved in the second test match that they had the fire power and went on to win the Lords test in the last hour of the fifth day.

All looked rosy for team India going into the third test but the only thing which went their way was the toss as first they were bowled out for 78 runs in the first innings and then England batsman hammered 432 runs with their top four all getting fifties and Joe scoring his third consecutive century to take this tally in the series to 507 runs which is double the score of what India’s KL Rahul. India’s second best scorer is Rohit Sharma who has 230 runs but rest all Indian batters like Cheteshwar Pujara with 162 runs, Virat Kohli 124, Ajinkya Rahane with 95, Rishab Pant with 87 runs and Ravindra Jadeja 133 runs. The total of all top 7 Indian batters for the series is 1,083 runs in three test matches with KL Rahul the only centurion in the series so far which shows that the Indian batters are still finding it difficult to adjust in the tough English conditions.

All the pundits said that India misread the pitch and paid the price but England scored 432 wherein both the innings Indian first lost all their ten batters for just 78 runs and in the second innings the last eight for only 63 runs which showed how good the English bowlers were and how poor the Indian batsmen

were in adapting to the conditions.

Virat Kohli after the loss said that if six batters can’t do the job then there is no guarantee that seventh extra batsman will bail you out. I totally agree to what the skipper says but the question which begs to one and all is, are your six batters good enough in English conditions baring Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul?

Even in the bowling, both Ishant Sharma looks a pale shadow of himself and Ravindra Jadeja looks more like a bowler who has been kept in the side to give rest to the fast bowlers as he has bowled totally 77 overs in three test matches and picked up just 2 wickets in five innings with an average of 93 for his bowling which shows that the balance of the team is simply not right.

If Virat Kohli has said that the template has been set for the series of playing four fast bowlers and one all-rounder, why can’t that all-rounder be Ravichandran Ashwin who has five test centuries as compared to one by Ravindra Jadeja.

This Indian side definitely has shown from the Australian series that they can bounce back and their captain did say that they love such situations and they will come back with a lot of determination and intensity than what they showed in the last test but can they prove it in English conditions against a team which has been led from the front by their captain Joe Root and their main strike bowler James Anderson, only time will say.