Updated: March 31, 2021 8:04:58 am
The triumph, across formats, of the Indian team against England was the perfect culmination to possibly the greatest cricketing season India has had in recent memory. The odds were stacked against them in the two series in Australia and at home — injuries, bio-bubble restrictions, captaincy changes, loss of the entire bowling attack at one point. But they chugged along to win five of the six series played with both teams. At home, after losing the first Test to England, they rallied to win the Tests, T20s, and ODI series.
The most satisfying aspect of the triumph against England is that the team has had to think on their feet, tweaking strategy as they went along. The pre-series talk suggested India’s best chance would be on flat batting pitches in Tests — why give a chance to England’s spinners was the argument, but it had to be jettisoned after Joe Root’s double hundred helped England to a comfortable win. Backs to the wall, they went for spin tracks which could have backfired but showed great skill and resolve to steamroll England in the three Tests. They kept losing the toss and were forced to chase in two crucial games in the T20 series, considered an almost hopeless cause, but they quashed that argument in imperious style. All in all, they lost 16 tosses in 22 matches against Australia and England, but won 13 games. Broken bones didn’t squash their spirits in Australia and they didn’t let up against a strong England team at home.
If winning games after batting first was the creditable achievement in T20s against England, the fact that they regrouped from a near-loss situation in the first ODI with a bunch of youngsters will reinforce self-belief. Nearly every puzzle is falling in place in the T20 World Cup year. The only uncertain thing was the spinners, but considering the return of Ravindra Jadeja and more options after the upcoming IPL, that won’t remain a headache for too long.
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