Cricket

ENG vs IND 2018: 3rd test – 3 key issues India must resolve

Another test match. Another loss. Reason behind the loss? Another dismal batting display. India’s batting lineup capitulated once again to the brilliance of James Anderson. The 36-year-old veteran paceman became the 1st bowler to cross the 100-wickets mark at Lord’s during the 2nd test match.

India’s horrendous show in 2nd test match saw the side lose by an inning and 159 runs. With successive defeats on the report card, the former Indian players did not hold back and slammed the Virat Kohli-led side for failing to put on a fight.

Former Test batsman VVS Laxman said on Twitter that “caught in unfavourable conditions, not reading what the opposition threw, saw India lose the Lord’s Test tamely without showing a fight.

Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag slammed the Indian side for failing to put on a fight.

Virat Kohli’s side, at times immune to criticism, was definitely under the radar this time around.

The brash avatar of the Indian side as a whole, highly visible in the skipper, has been immersed in all the players. However constructive criticism was observed, the situation was not blown out of proportion.

Constructive criticism, by definition, is “A recommended set of instructions that aims to collaboratively improve the overall quality of a product or service. Often containing helpful and specific suggestions for positive change, constructive criticism is highly focused on a particular issue or set of issues, as opposed to providing general feedback on the item or organization as a whole.”

No hard feelings, Virat.

With 2-0 down in the series and three matches to go, it is evident that India must pull up their socks and produce better cricket. The 3rd test match will start on 18th August which will be played at Trent Bridge. The last time England played a test match in Nottingham, the visitors South Africa won the match with a thumping victory by 340 runs.

Here are the three issues Indian side must resolve before they battle it out in the 3rd test match-

#1 India’s opening pair: 2Ws (Who & Why?)

Who should open for India in 3rd test?
Who should open for India in 3rd test?

Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay failed in the 1st match. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay failed in the 2nd. It’s a great travesty that India has failed to find a regular opening pair in tests. Virat Kohli stretched the record to 37 times without naming identical playing XIs.

The position he has most tinkered with is the opening pair. For openers, it has been a game of musical chair. Kohli’s love for chopping and changing has seen as many as 7 openers start in tests post him getting the armband.

Veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted: “The new ball is a big factor overseas. When the openers blunt the new ball, they give life to the middle order.

“India is getting nothing from its openers and that is where the comeback, if there is one, has to start.”

There are a couple of things that Virat Kohli needs to look in the mirror and ask himself. Which are the two players do I stick with and why should I stick with them? The skipper needs to sort out the opening pair before anything. He can either put faith in two players and have the patience for them to succeed. The other option, currently active, is he can make ‘n’ number of players start in the opening to end up nowhere.

Murali Vijay has failed to recreate his 2014 test series theatrics. Vijay was India’s top-scorer with a tally of 402 runs. His 1st century of the series came at Trent Bridge itself. Vijay needs to produce something similar if India sees any glimmer of hope.

#2 One man army feat. Virat Kohli

Note: The album’s name is – ‘Back to the 90s’. Sachin Tendulkar is playing a cameo in the music’s video. The faces of Kohli and Tendulkar seem to overlap and it looks like Kohli is the second coming of Tendulkar in the form of Cricket God 2.0

Sachin-Kohli overseas
On tours to NZ, SA, Aus and Eng

It seems staggering, eh? The overseas records of these two players look so similar. In the 1st test match at Edbagston, Kohli made 200 runs in two innings. Rest of the batting lineup made 214 in 20 innings. Shambolic.

The above infographic reinforces the fact of how much the Indian team rely on their captain every single time. Without Kohli, the team is well and doomed. We all saw what happened in the 2nd test when Kohli failed. The off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin came out as the top-scorer in both innings- 29 and 33 not out.

Ashwin (29 & 33*) became the first Indian batsman to top score in each innings of a Test batting at #8 or below in both innings. Just a reminder – India is world’s #1 test team.

Kohli’s recurring back problem has resurfaced again and it may well turn out to be a catastrophe for India if he does not start the next match.

#3 Lack of precision and firepower in the bowling unit

 

Can Indian bowlers nullify England's batting lineup in 3rd test?
Can Indian bowlers nullify England’s batting lineup in 3rd test?

Indian bowlers have done an excellent job in the first two matches but they have lacked out on one aspect of bowling – Precision.

Anderson and Broad bowled good deliveries on a consistent basis. The only difference between England bowlers and Indian bowlers – Lesser number of loose deliveries by the former.

They hit the right note at the right times. The duration between thoe times was negligible. It made the much needed difference.

Anderson was literally toying with the Indian batting lineup. He was accurate and deadly.

The selection of Kuldeep Yadav in the 2nd test match was questionable. What was more questionable was how the left-arm chinaman bowler was deployed. He bowled a mere 9 overs and failed to pick any wicket.

Ravi Shashtri must work in tandem with Virat Kohli & co. It’s now or never. They must go on the hunt to find solutions for certain puzzles. The biggest puzzle of them all – ‘How to Avoid from Getting Whitewashed?’.

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Gourav Pilania is the Head of Content at ThinkQuant. He is also a guest writer for India Today and can be followed on twitter @pilania_gourav.

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