” We understand why this series has gone the way it has, to be honest, we don’t see a massive-massive portion that we need to correct,” said Virat Kohli at the post-match press conference on Tuesday after India succumbed to yet another defeat in overseas Test series. While Kohli is standing resolutely by his team despite the 1-4 scoreline, this is the third instance of India losing four Tests in a series during the ongoing decade. Several chinks in the armor have been exposed and one cannot deny that the Indian team in whites did look off-color throughout the month-long series they played on the British Isles. So where did Kohli & Co go wrong this summer?
Adequate Preparations –
Before the start of the Test series, the Indian think-tank decided to opt for just one practice match against Essex during the 14-day gap between the final ODI and first Test. While Kohli questioned the “utility” of a pre-series tour game without ideal conditions and bowlers, a case in point can be made that a batsman of his ability may not require so. But for others in the team, a practice match can be vital instead of merely facing throw-downs in the nets. Simply opting for net practice is not enough as practice matches are equally important. In South Africa, India played well in the third Test, only after playing in two Tests. We’re talking of five Tests here. If you start winning after two Tests, the series can be gone by then.
Selection Policy –
Dropping Cheteshwar Pujara in the first Test and then going in with two spinners at Lord’s instead of three seamers revealed India’s flawed selection strategy. While in the first Test India missed Pujara’s expertise in the middle order, Kuldeep went wicketless in the next game even as England’s seamers ran riot on a pitch suited for seam bowling. Once again in the Southampton Test, where the pitch had a covering of dry grass, India opted to play just one spinner and include Hardik Pandya who picked up only one wicket in the match. England, on other hand, selected Moeen Ali who returned with a match-winning spell of 9/134.
Lack of support for King Kohli –
Indian seamers enjoyed a highly successful tour to England as they bowled their heart out to consistently trouble the English batsmen. But it was the batsmen who were a big letdown in tough English conditions. Kohli was brilliant with the bat, scoring 593 runs but failed to find support from the end. For instance, in the first Test, India was chasing 194 and Kohli stood out again with a combative 51 but others failed to rally around him as India were all out for 162. On the South African tour, Kohli averaged 47.67 while the rest of the middle order- stood at a shocking 19.72. In the series against England, the story was more or less similar. Statistics reveal that in terms of middle order performance (batting at 5, 6, 7) India remained at the bottom of the table behind Zimbabwe. In 16 matches, India’s middle order contribution is just 22.8 percent.
Ashwin vs Jadeja –
R Ashwin had a bright start to the tour but then lost his way after a hip niggle hampered his progress. The decision by the team management to play an unfit Ashwin in the fourth Test was a recipe for disaster. The off-spinner tried hard but simply could not execute his deliveries to perfection. The difference in his body shape (between the first & fourth Test) while releasing a delivery was clearly noticeable. A fit and in form Ravindra Jadeja showed what India was missing in the last match of the series. But by that time it was too little too late.