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Woeful Batting Hands India Innings Defeat At the Old Trafford

August 10, 2014

Broad leads his team towards dressing roomHistory starts to repeat itself once again as India have been blown away at the Old Trafford by ten-men England. In the process the tourists hand over their lead in the Investec Test Series and now will have to battle to save the series, however England with this victory make sure that they retain the Pataudi Trophy. During the first two tests India looked impressive with their batting, so did their overall performance. But since then neither the batsmen have delivered the goods, nor have they looked anywhere near to the team we saw during the earlier fixtures.

Clearly batting has been the strength of the Indian team over the past few decades in order to win the matches overseas. In the recent past the Indian batsmen outside the sub-continent simply have not been able to put good totals on the board, which is the reason of their failure more than anything else. But this team is lacking the basic things in terms of temperament, positive energy and urgency which are ever important for scoring runs in abroad.

There have been so many discussions about the talents of the current players of this team. Even at times people start comparing these players to the legends of the game. But scoring runs in flat Indian wickets does not show the true character of a batsman. Sometimes it is a lot more important to stay in the crease for long time than to score runs. The weather at the Old Trafford had put the 4th and 5th days’ of play under the shadow of doubt. Under these circumstances the primary objective of the Indian batsmen should have been to preserve their wickets till the 3rd day’s play. But somehow neither of their batsmen did show any kind of such urgency regarding the situation. If the team whose strength is batting gets bowled out twice within 4 sessions of play then anybody can predict the rest of the script.

India at the Old Trafford were up against tough conditions undoubtedly. The decision of batting first needed to be backed up by some disciplined performance from the openers. Vijay, Pujara and later Rahane may have showed patience while batting in the first day at Lord’s, but only having said that it was more than a poor display of English bowling than the classy Indian batting. But Anderson and Broad this time did not disappoint their captain when they were presented the red cherry. From the very first ball they bowled the right line and the right length, hit the deck hard and kept threatening the Indian batsmen every time they ran in. The kind of control Anderson showed over his wrist to swing the ball both ways, and to swing from different areas of the pitch was amazing. The way he set up Vijay in the first innings, by bowling outswingers from outside the off stump, and then one from middle stump to get his outside edge was great to watch for a neutral, perhaps not so good if you are an Indian fan. His combination with Stuart Broad had put India to a spot of bother straightaway within the first half an hour of play as they were 4 down for just 8 runs on the board with all four wickets going down without a run being added. Rahane and Dhoni tried to rebuild but the collapse continued as Rahane threw his wicket away in attempt of an unnecessary off drive just before the lunch. The captain played his part, but nobody except Ashwin was really there to support him from the other end.

When India came out to bat in the second innings they might have fancied their chances having seen the first innings’ 6 wicket hero Stuart Broad injured and off the field with a broken nose. But what is the need of him in the field if Indians decide to give their wickets away against part-time spin? Yes, instead of seam, swing and bounce this time Dhoni and his brigade was undone with the spin of Moeen Ali. The number of wickets that the visitors have given away to the part-time English spinner in this series is 8 more than the number of wickets Jadeja had in his last 6 tests. With the strike rate Jadeja is bowling at the moment it takes 21 overs for him to pick up a wicket, whereas within this span while batting half of the Indian side goes back in the hut. And the people were like Indian spinners are threatening and Indians are good players of spin bowling!

If we talk about performances of individuals in the Indian batting line up in this test, Ravichandran Ashwin looked to be the most proficient with the drives and cuts he played. It was expected from the Indian skipper after the knock he played in the first innings that at least he would try to take the game longer. But the way he got out attempting a sweep at the mid wicket and the run out followed by, clearly suggested that Indians were not even interested to drag the match into the next day of play. Two of the Indian top orders Pujara and Kohli, from whom their team has been hoping for big runs have been off-colored throughout the series so far. Pujara bears a reputation of staying calm and composed for long, but here he is not able to convert the starts he is having. Rahane would be disappointed with the loose shots that he played to get dismissed in both of the occasions in this match. Everybody is seeing the weakness of Gambhir against the balls around his rib cage. Not sure what happened to Vijay after being in prime form in the first two tests. And as far as Kohli is concerned, it is probably the time for him to work on his technique. In order to adopt with the tough conditions many batsmen have to revise their technique and make the necessary changes. Form is always temporary, but transforming the class within you into form is what makes you a quality cricketer. Sooner Kohli understands these things, quicker he will learn how to play big knocks overseas. Because sometimes it’s not how many runs you score and how many times you get out, but which matters is the way you get out. This is going to be the most worrying factor for team India before the start to the all important final test at the Oval. England on the other hand have made a good recovery after having the wake-up call in Lord’s. With their middle order batsmen started to find their touch more and more as the series progresses, now they are looking good to hang on with the lead unless the Indians pull out something special.

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