Where India Faltered At Edgbaston
The Edgbaston Test was like a pendulum. The momentum oscillating from India, then to England, back to India and finally settling in England’s hands. It was that type of a Test match which won’t be erased from memory in years to come and will be talked about every now and then. England, who were playing their 1000th Test match, made it memorable by clinching this humdinger by 31 runs. For India, it was another time of “so-close-yet-so-far”, evoking memories of Bridgetown 1997, Adelaide 2014, Galle 2015 and Centurion 2018.
There were moments which India clinched and there were moments also which India let slip away. So, what are those reasons where India fell short and the Test went out of their hand? Let’s have a look:
Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra, said in the Hindi pre-match show of Day 4, that “Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman would practice slip catching every day for at least thirty minutes. Two things. Batting and slip catching. Sprinting and everything else would come later.” Yes, both England and India struggled in this aspect in the match but for India, the slip cordon has been a Russian roulette for long. Only Ajinkya Rahane and KL Rahul seem to be reliable slip catchers in this Indian Team.
At Edgbaston, India held on to seven catches but dropped four at the same time. Some of these dropped chances cost India the game. Like Shikhar Dhawan dropped Adil Rashid when on 13 and Sam Curran at the same score. Though Adil was eventually dismissed for 16, Sam though scored a whirlwind 63 off 65 balls and changed the game. The difference between the two teams at the end was 31 runs and that drop did cost India the match.
LEFT ARM PACER TROUBLES
Let’s face it. Indian batsmen are mostly found wanting against left-arm pacers. Be it be Mohammad Amir in the Champions Trophy 2017 final or here in the form of Sam Curran. The 20-year-old all-rounder, playing in just his second Test match, was the surprise package. If all eyes were on James Anderson and Stuart Broad, then Curran was out of syllabus for the Indian batsmen in first innings. He took out Shikhar Dhawan (drove on an away swinger and edged to slip), Murali Vijay (swinging into the pads) and KL Rahul (dragged to his stumps in pursuit of a drive) in span of nine balls and dismissed Hardik Pandya (hit him on his boot with an inswinger) to complete his four-wicket haul in first innings.
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Virat Kohli single-handedly brought India back into the game. His phenomenal knock of 149 and a gritty 51 in the second innings is what kept India in the game. Moreover, in one knock, he out-scored his 2014 tour tally. Apart from Hardik Pandya, who tried to stay at the crease, none of the Indian batters showed steely resolve as Kohli. Shikhar Dhawan was lured into drive and edged behind, Murali Vijay wasn’t judging the ball well, KL Rahul looked confused, Ajinkya Rahane wasn’t in his confident self and Dinesh Karthik was his way back to the pavilion after looking to stay at the crease in second innings. If India has to succeed in Lord’s Test, then the batters need to step up their game. They must have had taken cues from how Kohli went on his way at Edgbaston.
Another thing which Indian team needs to look into is the way their collapses take place. In the first innings, the top three were dismissed in nine balls, taking the total from a comfortable 50 for nil to 59 for three. Then again, Ajinkya Rahane and Dinesh Karthik were dismissed quickly which saw India going from 100 for three to 100 for five. Then, finally, in second innings, post-Virat Kohli’s dismissal at 51, India went from 141 for six to 16 all out. Four wickets lost in a span of 21 runs. The foundation of a solid, big score is a partnership which stays for long. India needs to have a look at it as well.
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FAILING TO CLEAN UP THE TAIL
A factor which has stayed with India for long. Their inability to clean up the tail quickly. England were 87 for seven in second innings. Adil Rashid and Sam Curran were at the crease. Strangely, when Curran was at the crease, Ravichandran Ashwin, who was picking out left-handers with ease, wasn’t brought on to bowl to him. If Ashwin have had taken him out, then who knows, India won’t have had to chase 194. Also, the pacers couldn’t finish off the tail and instead Sam stitched partnerships with Rashid, Broad, and Anderson, which proved heavy for India in the end.
A LACK OF PREPARATION
On Sunday, former Indian cricket team captain Sunil Gavaskar attributed to lack of preparation for India’s loss at Edgbaston by saying, “They were playing with the white ball and the white ball doesn’t swing at all. It hardly swings for half-a-dozen overs or so but the red-ball keeps swinging. So clearly you needed to have more practice. You can have as much as the simulated practice with the throwdowns etc but it is never the same as in a match”. He also indirectly quipped that India should have played at least two practice matches in the 14-day gap between the final ODI on 17th July and the start of the Test series from 1st August.
This has a validity as red-ball Dukes swings more than a white-ball kookaburra. Also, the shots which are played in white-ball cricket can’t be played in red-ball cricket. And batsmen got dismissed when they try to chase deliveries in outside off channel which could have had been left alone.
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