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Opinion

Innings defeat at Headingley: Time for some changes in the Indian team

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Roar Guru
28th August, 2021
30

The English bowling unit knows how to get this line-up out in these conditions like the back of their hand.

If a team gets 78 all out and then repeats it with 63 for 8, some changes must be made to the batting unit.

Unless the Indian team makes changes, England will do this repeatedly to the Indian batting unit. This series is increasingly looking like going the same way as 2014 series if India does not change things up in batting composition and mindset.

What are the changes that the Indian team might make for the fourth Test?

Batting
If we take an inventory of batters who have looked reasonably comfortable in these conditions, they will be KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja. Cheteshwar Pujara found some form in the last innings of the Headingley Test and looked confident until he made the fatal decision to leave an incoming delivery.

So, these four will need to be retained in the top six. Jadeja can no longer be allowed to start his innings with the tail-enders for company. The team should use his excellent form for more runs. Jadeja should be allowed to bat in the top five.

Now comes the problem area; Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant.

Virat Kohli of India

Could Virat Kohli’s captaincy be coming under pressure? (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Even though Kohli scored a fifty in the second innings, he barely looked in control. He was making the same mistakes outside the off stump and was lucky to have not lost his wicket earlier.

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Ajinkya Rahane and Pant have shown significant weakness outside the off stump. If one went by form and shape at the crease, the selectors must drop all these three players to fix the rut. I guess dropping the captain never happens in India, so Virat might hold his spot.

The time has come to give Surya Kumar Yadav or Hanuma Vihari a chance in the middle order. Wridhiman Saha should replace Pant to see what he can do better than Pant with the bat. My line-up will have Rohit, Rahul, Pujara, Jadeja, Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, and Saha as my seven batsmen.

However, I think the team management will play Vihari rather than Yadav. If not, they might also look to bring in Mayank Agrawal at the top and move Rahul to Rahane’s spot to bolster the middle order.

Bowling
Ishant Sharma did not look energetic throughout the two days in Headingley. He seemed similarly unfit during the first innings of the Lord’s Test until he got two wickets towards the end of that innings.

Ishant needs to be rested for the fourth Test at The Oval and replaced by Ravichandran Ashwin. Aswhin’s record against left-handed batsmen should help the team against an English batting unit that contains four left-handers.

Ashwin will add some batting ability to the lower order as well. With the kind of form he has shown in the past many months, he should play the remainder of the series.

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj should hold their places in the XI.

My Indian XI for the fourth Test
Rohit, Rahul, Pujara, Jadeja, Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Saha, Ashwin, Shami, Bumrah and Siraj.

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As I look at the current state of the series, I will bet on England to win the series 2-1 or 3-1. Their batting unit has found some form to play along with Joe Root.

The bowling unit is in fantastic shape for these conditions, and they have the wood on the Indian batting unit, as it were. So, overall, the English team look a lot more solid than the Indian team. To put it bluntly, the Indian team is a bit like the planet Jupiter, which looks big but is filled chiefly with gas.

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