Indian captain Virat Kohli’s claim that the 4-1 loss to England does not reflect the true picture of the Test series is correct to an extent.
At least four of the five Tests were close affairs where both side scrapped to the finish. But in the end only results count. And there is no doubt that England won the big points and this reflected in the final outcome.
There were problems galore for both sides. If India’s batsmen were found wanting, then England too had similar problems.
The major difference between the two sides was that England’s lower order shored up the innings with decent scores while India’s tail just did not wag.
Vice-captain Jos Buttler propped up the innings several times while Man-of –the-Series Sam Curran rescued England with bold batting. All-rounder Chris Woakes also registered his maiden hundred in Tests.
The openers from both sides were a flop until Lokesh Rahul finally broke his spell of bad scores with an aggressive and fighting century.
Similarly, Alastair Cook struggled against the Indian pacemen before a fairy-tale ending to his career. Cook became one of the rare players who score a 50 and a 100 in both his first and last Test. He has contributed immensely to England as both player and captain and will be missed. He surely ranks among the best players England has ever produced.
The only consistent player for India was Kohli. If it wasn’t for him India would have been whitewashed. He erased all the bad memories of his previous tour in the first Test itself and went on prove why he is the best batsman in the world today.
If Kohli the player excelled, then Kohli the captain, along with coach Ravi Shastri, erred badly with their strange selections.
By constantly picking as a No 6 batsman and fourth seamer, India went in with only five specialist batsman. Pandya has a long way to go still before he can be called an all-rounder.
Instead the futility of omitting Ravindra Jadeja was clearly exposed when he did well in the last Test, replacing an injured Ravichandran Ashwin.
Pandya had one five-wicket haul in the series in helpful conditions and one half-century when there was nothing to lose.
Jadeja would have been more useful as Ashwin was played in two Tests despite being clearly injured. What defies logic is Shastri pronounced Ashwin fit for the crucial fourth Test where the wicket was offering spin. Ashwin was not up to the mark and faced a lot of criticism.
Then it was admitted that Ashwin was indeed injured. Such wrong information affects not only the player but the entire team. Picking Kuldeep Yadav for the second Test on a seaming track was a joke. Kuldeep was sent back half-way through the tour for no fault of his.
The choice of Hanuma Vihari, who replaced Kuldeep in the side, ahead of Karun Nair who was in the touring party from the start for the final Test was baffling. Vihari did well on debut but Nair had every right to question why he was there in the first place when he was unwanted.
India’s real heroes, other than Kohli, were the pace bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, exploited the English conditions beautifully and tested England with their speed, swing and accuracy.
This was probably one of the best displays by Indian seamers in overseas conditions. It also confirms that India are well equipped now in the pace bowling department finally. This is heartening from the future point of view.
India must now learn from this experience. It was all the matter of being so near and yet so far. In the final analysis, despite the result, the Pataudi Trophy was a great advertisement for Test cricket and it reaffirms its significance to the game.