What India should have done better in preparations for the current England test series?
The India vs England series has so far been a battle of two fragile batting lineups against two quality bowling attacks. The first test at Nottingham was drawn after the 5th day was wash out. While the match was delicately poised with India needing 157 to win with 9 wickets in hand.
The 2nd test at Lords had its ebbs and flows with India dominating the 1st day by putting up a great score in bowling conditions. However, England managed a comeback and was poise to win early on the 5th day till a dramatic fightback ensued from the Indian bowlers first with the bat and then with the ball. England could not withstand the Indian aggression and lost at Lords due to an abject batting display on the last day.
While India was high on confidence and momentum, a shocking batting display from them on day one at Leeds in the next test brought England right back in the series and now there is another clear momentum shift in favour of England.
It is very disheartening to note that an international side which boasts of winning overseas has such alarming swings in form. Despite the Lords win and the series 1-1. It goes without saying that the collapses that are happening in this Indian batting during. This series have been nothing less than a big worry. Also, the bowlers could not sustain the momentum gained at Lords and looked jaded at Leeds.
36 all out is no longer an aberration. We already had a 78 all out and a 63/8 at Leeds.
This puts into perspective, India’s preparations for this series and some of their questionable selections:
Some of the areas where India could have done much better in their preparations & selections:
1. After the WTC final India had a big 21-day gap before their practice tour game. That gap could have been reduce to a 10-day gap and BCCI should have ask ECB to arrange a couple of 3-day tour games. Which could have given more match practice to all the Indian batsmen and bowlers alike. Just one tour game before a big long test series with quick turnarounds is definitely not ideal preparation. The single tour game actually proved beneficial for KL Rahul who got a 100 in that game. When he got a chance to open in the test instead of an injured Mayank Agarwal, he never looked back. Hence not arranging for at least 3 tour games before the first test was not an ideal situation.
2. Selection of the bowling attack for this tour. India admittedly has a big entourage of quality fast bowlers probably for the first time in their cricket history. However, bowling in England needs certain specific skills. Swing is an important component in England and India left two of their best swing bowlers in their country back home. And in fact they were made to go to Sri Lanka for the 6 match white ball series. It is not that the existing Indian bowlers in England are doing too badly. But most of the bowlers except Thakur are mostly hit the deck bowlers who seam it more. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar are two of India’s best swing bowlers and they toured the wrong country. If not both, at least one of them should have definitely been in England.
3. No practice tour game between the Lords and the Leeds test is another inexplicable planning. There was a 9-day gap between 2nd and 3rd test and no effort was made earlier to schedule a tour game to utilise this gap. These types of games help the reserves to be match ready and out of form batsmen and bowlers to work more on their skills and technique. As it happened, India lost miserably at Leeds.
4 Faulty team XI selections is another issue. One look at the Leeds pitch should have prompted India to play Ashwin, their premier spinner. The Leeds deck is not a pitch to play four pacers for India as they have good spin options. Root has scored runs for fun in this series and he is yet to face a ball from Ashwin. However, Kohli’s over obsession with fast bowlers had made Ashwin wait. While it did work at Lords, much of that was to be attribute to England’s lousy batting on the 5th day.
While the Team India management may not agree on the above observations, the reasons for the slump at Leeds look pretty obvious. A couple of top Indian batters and bowlers are at the crossroads of their careers.