India finally found its feet in England and have now given themselves a sporting chance to stage a comeback in the Test series in England.
Before winning the Trent Bridge, Nottingham Test, India were woefully down 0-2 in the five-Test series. Now hope has been rekindled that the No 1 Test team in the world will live up to its name.
Before the start of the series, India had been talking big that this was a great chance to win a Test series as they potentially had a superb side filled with star batsmen and good bowlers.
England had been out of sort since losing the Ashes and had actually lost a Test in the drawn series against a young Pakistan team. Confidence was certainly not high among the Englishmen.
But never underestimate the strength of a team in its home conditions. India were totally exposed with the batsmen confused on whether to get aggressive or just stay at the wicket and build. The bowlers performed very well except for odd aberrations without much help from the batsmen.
The exception of course was that colossus called Virat Kohli. He single-handedly fought a losing cause with great application and verve. But the others just fell like nine pins with only the tail willing to give a fight.
Kohli had a miserable tour last time and had much to prove in this series. He has done precisely that so far and is by and is the highest run-getter in the series.
The Indian tour selectors must take blame too for their warped choices. Shekhar Dhawan was promptly dumped after the First Test though he had scored more than Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul.
It’s sad that Dhawan becomes the scapegoat for all of India’s failures. The left-hander had done well earlier but the constant attack by India’s so-called critics, except Sunil Gavaskar, has led to him being dropped.
Thankfully, Dhawan made good use of his opportunity by giving India solid starts in the Third Test on his recall.
It was totally weird picking up the leg spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the Second Test in swinging conditions. It proved an expensive choice.
Thankfully, India put all those reverses behind them and approached the Third Test with renewed vigour. England captain Joe Root gave them first use of the wicket and India’s batsmen took full advantage.
Kohli and his vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane kept the scoreboard ticking with singles while applying themselves to the task of putting up a good score.
But it was the bowlers who finally got an opportunity to make their presence felt with a decent score of 329 to play with. Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami bowled superbly on a wicket which was slow but affording swing.
England and India seemed to have reversed roles. It was England’s turn to be indecisive and they were finally defeated. Now with the scoreline reading 1-2 in England’s favour, India have a great opportunity to apply the pressure further.
The Englishmen have realised why India is the No 1 team in the world. Even one of their coaches has asked the England batsman to learn from Kohli on how to build an innings.
India must stop tinkering with the line-up and maintain consistency in selection, barring injuries for the Fourth Test. Mocked by the English press and critics, India have proved them wrong. Now is the time to capitalise, gain control and deliver.
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