India finally went on to win a great test series against England by 3-1 after getting a rude awakening in first test to qualify themselves for the finals of the World Test Championships to be played at Lords from 18th June .
A series which promised so much after first two tests folded up in a rather anticlimactic manner . England’s poor batting technique, their lesser quality spinners , their rotation policy all combined to finally end the series for them on a disastrous note.
The bizaare rotation policy proved to be disastrous for England after 1st test. Resting Anderson for 2nd test in order to save him for 3rd test proved to be a tactical blunder as the England bowling looked listless in 2nd test with Archer also out of action. Again Moeen Ali went back home after second test due to rotation policy ( took 8 wickets in 2nd test) and Chris Woakes left after 3rd test due to the same policy , without playing a test !! Buttler going home after 1st test and Bairstow returning for last two tests turned out to be awful blunders . All these movements in and out of the team only unsettled the whole unit which further aggravated the progressively poor result due to lack of skill in playing on subcontinent pitches .
England’s misery is reflected in their series batting averages with only Joe Root averaging well but mainly due to scoring 258 runs in 1st test . In all Root scored 368 runs averaging 46 which means his returns dropped sharply after 1st test . In last 3 tests Root scored only 110 runs at a below 20 average All their remaining batters averaged below thirties. Stokes had a poor tally by his standards of 203 runs at 25.87 average. Lawrence (149 runs at 24.87 average) looked good in parts. In bowling Leach (18 wickes at 28 average ) and Anderson (8 wickets at 15 average in 3 tests ) performed well overall. Moeen took 8 wickets in his only test at 28 average . Olly Stone looked sharp in his only test getting 4 wickets at 17 average but the rest looked pretty blunt including Archer (4 wickets from 2 tests ) and Stuart Broad ( no wickets in this series in 2 tests) . Broad looked flat and Archer lacked the pace which made him an x factor in the Ashes 2019.
India did experience a massive series success but their middle order did not perform well at all in home conditions which is a slight concern. Kohli (172 runs at 28.66 average), Pujara (133 runs at 22.16 average after a good Australia series ) , Gill (119 runs at 19.83 average) and Rahane (112 runs at 18.66 average ) have clearly underperformed. Bigger concerns for Rahane , with one good score getting followed by too many low scores. With KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal waiting in reserves and Sundar batting well , the Indian vice captain needs to produce a run of more consistent scores soon .
However the series turned out great for Rohit Sharma (345 runs at 57.50 average ) , Rishabh Pant (270 runs at 54 average ), Ashwin the batsman (189 runs at 31 average) and Washington Sundar (181 runs at 91.50 average with 2 notouts). The last named showed his batting skills well enough to be counted for the top six apart from his bowling which is a bonus.
In bowling it was Axar Patel (27 wickets in 3 tests at 10.59 average ) and Ashwin (32 wickets at 14.71 average) all the way reflecting how they decimated England batting. The rest of the bowlers only needed to put up token shows in this series .
Ashwin was the unanimous choice for the man of the series award with 189 runs with a century and 32 wickets for the series. A great all round performance. His batting has revived again and he is bowling as well as he has ever done getting the big landmark of 400 test wickets .
Axar Patel has been a revelation. Till before this series he was earmarked as a white ball specialist . But his impeccable line and length and accuracy was too much for England . Having a good arm ball and getting decent bounce due to his height , he was tough to play the sweep. Big headache for selectors once Jadeja is back.
Getting back to batting, while Rahane and Gill’s batting have shown concerns , Rohit Sharma have dispelled all doubts about his ability to open with stellar performances and Rishabh Pant has shown his ever increasing maturity in playing according to the match situation and unleashing himself at the opportune moments . His keeping has also gone up a few notches on tough pitches at home.
Thus India are now in the World Test Championships finals and pitted against New Zealand at Lords from 18th of June 2021. A mouth watering battle on the cards.