A series of events unfolded before India finally returned to ground on Friday for their tour match against Middlesex. The changes off the field had taken the center stage for more than a week now, precisely every day after India’s 3-1 drubbing at the hands of England in the Test series. On Friday, there seemed little change on the field for the Indians except that MS Dhoni had decided to take a break, meaning Virat Kohli donned the captain’s hat and young Sanju Samson the wicket-keeping gloves. The stand in captain lost the coin toss and was invited to bat first.
Four overs into the innings, there were similar scenes on the pitch like the third Test or like on the numerous sunny days the Indian batting collapsed against Moeen Ali’s spin and the pace duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad throughout the series.
Shikhar Dhawan played the ball straight into the hands of mid-on with only 19 runs on the board. India were one down. That quickly became 29 for two with Rohit Sharma caught at third man and then Ajinkya Rahane also threw it away to make it 52 for three. India were disappointing just like they had the entire English summer. The only batsman who had to face the criticism of the defeat more than any one else was Virat Kohli, who once again found himself in the midst of another Indian batting collapse. But his new partner, Ambati Rayudu, was a first timer.
Kohli played a beautiful straight drive off Steven Finn and just when you thought vintage Virat was back, he was beaten outside the off-stump off the very next ball. And again. Twice in succession.
Kohli was caught behind. India lost its fourth wicket but there was a difference in Kohli’s walk back to the pavilion. Kohli and Rayudu had added 104 runs for the fourth wicket. More than the partnership, it was Kohli’s 71-run knock that had brought smiles to the faces in the visitors balcony at the Lord’s, especially the newly appointed Team Director Ravi Shastri. The under-fire batsman, who had scored only 134 runs in 10 innings of the five Tests, would have been more than happy to get some runs before the ODI series.
The result was that India beat the county side comfortably by 95 runs with every bowler, except Ravindra Jadeja, picking up a wicket each while young leg-spinner Karn Sharma claimed three. But on Monday when they play England in Bristol, neither it will be a second string bowling attack with Gurjit Sandhu and James Harris in it nor will the batting collapse like that of Middlesex. India will have to deal with a confident England team with home support.
High on confidence
England will be pinning their hopes on in-form batsmen Joe Root and Gary Ballance, who emerged as the highest run-getter in the Test series, while the likes of skipper Alastair Cook and Ian Bell will provide continued…