Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

India tour of England: Confident India look to maintain upper hand

Jubilant Indian players after winning the Lord's test. (Source: AP) Jubilant Indian players after winning the Lord's test. (Source: AP)
Press Trust of India | London | Posted: July 26, 2014 3:35 pm

They have snatched the momentum with a brilliant show on the dreaded Lord’s green-top and India’s in-form cricketers would now aim to take an unassailable series lead against a demoralised England in the third cricket Test starting here tomorrow.

The visitors won the second Test at Lord’s by 95 runs on a green-top wicket after the first Test at Nottingham was drawn. The stage is now set for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men to overwhelm the hosts, who are in turmoil.

The victory at Lord’s marked an end to the 15-match long drought without an overseas Test win. It stretched as far back as 2011, when India had beaten West Indies at Kingston.

That was also the last time that the Dhoni-led side took a 1-0 series lead. In that light, this is uncharted territory for a young team.

Back then, India won the Test series in the Caribbean by the slimmest of margins, drawing the next two Tests at Barbados and Dominica.

This is purely a statistical memory because Dhoni makes it a point to segregate the present from the past. But there can be some learning from history and it is for that purpose they had recruited former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid as mentor ahead of this Test series.

The legendary batsman was part of the Indian side that last played a five-Test series, back in 2002, coincidentally too against the West Indies.

India, under Sourav Ganguly back then, had taken the lead at Trinidad, squandered it away at Barbados in the third Test, and then lost the series at Kingston in the fifth Test eventually.

At this juncture it can be hoped that he also impressed upon this young team how to wade through untested waters.

Unlike that tour, this series doesn’t have a tour game in between any of the Tests. A long drawn-out encounter can be a grueling affair especially if it is packed in 40-odd days.

India need to watch out against two factors – complacency and bowlers’ workload – and that the two are indirectly related On Friday, three batsmen spent most time in the nets.

Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were hard at work because they obviously want to make an impact before it is too late. The third was Rohit Sharma whose absence from the eleven hasn’t been noticed thanks to the victory at Lord’s.

He was as busy in the practice session two days before the game as someone who had already been informed of his return to the starting line-up.

It begs the question of the fifth bowler once again. In the first two Tests, Stuart Binny has only bowled 20 overs and both his spells have been in the first innings.

While the hosts only batted once at Trent Bridge, it was telling that Binny didn’t get a single over at Lord’s when India looked to defend 319 runs. Surprisingly, Dhawan bowled two overs while Murali Vijay sent down four in that innings.

Even Rohit can bowl some part-time spin and it could mark a move back to the seven-batsmen-four-bowlers-formula, especially now that India have taken a 1-0 lead. The danger here is continued…

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