England had once again beaten India within three days. Millions of hearts were broken and there were countless questions in every Indian fan’s mind. This was a forgettable outing for Team India as they stumbled to a 3-1 defeat from a 1-0 lead. India last won a test series away from home more than 3 years ago… What went wrong for the visitors? What caused this series loss? What led to this state of affairs and the resultant outrage in social media?
There are plenty of reasons for this unexpected debacle… a few key reasons:
- Bowling workload on Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma: A lot of pressure was levied upon Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma. Ishant was the only experienced bowler in the entire squad and injury made him unavailable for two of the test matches that India lost.
- To add to the team’s miseries, the fielding was sloppy: Particularly by the keeper and the slips. Rahane, Kohli, Vijay, all dropped crucial game-changing catches. Dhoni too did not asset himself as keeper and let half changes go by.
- Caving of the Indian Middle order: The middle order had a forgettable outing; Mainly the No.3 and No.4 batsmen, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. The former couldn’t convert good starts into long innings and finished with just 222 runs in 10 innings at an average of 22.2. Kohli hardly found any rhythm during the entire test series. His scores in all the ten innings he played are as follows: 1,8,25,0,39,28,0,7,6,20. These are simply not numbers one would expect from a class batsman like Kohli.
- Openers had a forgettable outing and Indian fans are still waiting for a 50 run opening stand outside India for the last 3 years. Barring Murali Vijay, no Indian opener made his presence felt throughout the series. Shikhar Dhawan couldn’t do much and Gautam Gambhir’s inability to counter swing bowling was disturbing to watch. Gambhir played 2 matches and managed to score only 25 runs in the 4 innings he played at an average of 6.2! Things couldn’t get worse than this for the senior Delhi opener as he ran himself out cheaply in the 2nd innings of the last test.
- KEY STAT: If we compare the batting performances of the top five of both the teams, England (1714 runs in 7 innings) had scored more runs than India(1195 runs in 10 innings). And the difference of the average runs scored per innings was more than double with India scoring an average of 119 runs compared to 244 by England
A Few Positives :
Despite all these failures, there were a few positives one can look upon. The middle and the lower order showed great character in some innings, thanks to heroics from captain Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and R Ashwin.
- BATTING: Murali Vijay showed more solidity in his batting technique as he judged the deliveries outside the off stump well. He was the lone bright spot in the top order as he finished with 402 runs in 5 matches at an average of 40.2. When the top order failed, captain Dhoni withstood the Tsunami bravely. He scored 4 fifties in the series and ended with 349 runs at an average of 34.9. Ajinkya Rahane also showed great intent in his batting as he scored 299 runs with 2 fifties and a ton
- BOWLING: With 19 wickets in 5 matches at an economy of 2.9 runs per over, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was the best Indian bowler on the tour. He also made valuable contributions with the bat, scoring 318 runs in 10 innings with 3 fifties. These performances also won him the Indian Man of the Series award. He was well guided and supported by his senior teammate Ishant Sharma who finished with 14 wickets in 3 matches. He produced one of the most memorable spells of his life at Lord’s where he took 7 wickets in the second innings, thus helping India win the second test. Varun Aaron generated great pace and is a refreshing change to the military medium pace bowling by the Indians
India play their next test series against West Indies at home. 3 tests will be played between October 30 and November 19 and one hopes that returning to home will bring better memories to the Indian camp.