I had a little bit of time to spare on Monday afternoon, and so I settled onto my couch and put the cricket on the television.
The first Test between India and England was a fantastic one. The game was in balance almost until the last moment and both teams had a fair chance to win.
Unfortunately for India though, England just had that little bit extra in their tank to get to the finish line.
The Indian problem was once again related to the batting. The bowling attack did extremely well and in spite of some uninspiring captaincy, managed to bowl the opposition out in both the innings.
The batting struggled once again to stand up to the pressures of Test cricket outside sub-continent. Virat Kohli was brilliant with the bat but did not receive any support from the rest of the batting lineup.
This was not a one-time occurrence, as India faced the same issue earlier this year in South Africa. A series which everyone in India believed the visitors should have won.
The batting lineup has been struggling for consistency outside Asia for a long time and the first England Test was just the proof of the same. India’s last Test tour outside Asia before the South African series was in West Indies.
A series again in which the batting suffered. Ravichandran Ashwin saved India from the blushes twice with two hundreds. The fact that the hosts were lacking experience helped India to crawl out of those holes they dug themselves in.
The Indian team needs more than Virat to win, at least for this series. Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay are probably the most disappointing of the lot. Both the above-mentioned players were part of India’s last overseas leg and scored runs everywhere.
The other problems for India are KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan. Both the opening options have been struggling for form and India don’t have any replacements at the moment. The wicket-keeping spot as well needs a look in. Dinesh Karthik not only struggled with the bat, his glove work wasn’t that great either.
With just a few days between the first two Tests, India cannot do anything drastic in terms of preparation but would need to somehow dig deep to see how they can turn this batting problem around. Cheteshwar Pujara might come back into the team for Lord’s and it will be interesting to see if India gambles with Rishabh Pant in place of Dinesh Karthik.
The opening combination will be interesting as well as all three of them failed in the first Test, so it will be a lottery of sorts as to which combination plays in the second Test.
The bowling attack looked good in both the innings. If Jasprit Bumrah is fit he will mostly replace Umesh Yadav in the line-up. The other position in question is Hardik Pandya. No one is sure what his role is in the XI.
His batting doesn’t give India enough runs and his bowling is non-existent. India has the option of playing either Ravindra Jadeja or Karun Nair in his spot.
India still has a great chance of winning the series and for that to happen the batsmen have to fire. Virat Kohli is the only world-class player in the side and the gulf in class showed in the first Test. The experienced players in the lineup need to step up and if that does not happen, the one man army will struggle to win consistently outside the subcontinent.
India has invested lots of time on players like Cheteshwar Pujara, Lokesh Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay, and this is their chance to reprise that faith.