In the first two days of this match, not much had gone India’s way. Day 4 brought another challenge of survival to save the test. Unfortunately the Indian batting couldn’t deny the inevitable.
Yet again,the batsmen had no answer to the English bowlers. After a brief period of play in the morning, the hosts declared the innings with a lead of 289 runs, leaving India a mountain to climb. And the visitors were bowled out in 47 overs handing England a win by an innings and 159 runs. A loss always hurts but a crushing defeat inflicts even more pain.
This test match exposed the perturbing state of India’s batting, but it also showcased the class and
skill of the English attack. Jimmy Anderson who swung the ball away all along the first innings,
suddenly brought the in-swinger in the second innings to rattle the visitors. Murali Vijay who had a
very good outing in his last tour here, had no answers to the incoming delivery of the veteran as it
took the inside edge of his bat to the keeper. Another in-swinger did KL Rahul in as well. The young
man, trying to get on to the front foot to counter the out-swing from Anderson was trapped in front
by the incoming delivery. It was quite brilliant on Anderson’s part whose stock delivery is the one
that goes away, to bring in a couple of those to dismiss the openers.
Pujara and Rahane showed a bit of grit to stay on the wicket but the runs were drying up. Just when
they looked settled, Rahane, trying to get a move on, edged one off Stuart Broad in the slips.
Pujara’s stubborn resistance came to an end courtesy of an absolute peach of an inswinger from
Broad to knock back his stumps. Virat Kohli came out with a stiff lower back and yet looked the most comfortable batsman of all. However England peppered some short pitch stuff on the Indian captain to put him in more discomfort. Amidst the agonizing pain, he gloved one to the short leg and India were left looking down the barrel again. Dinesh Karthik was another victim of the in-swing as he was adjudged LBW off his first ball.
Hardik Pandya and Ravi Ashwin then put on a 55 run stand which was the only bright spot in India’s innings. Eventually India were bundled out for 130 in 47 overs which put an end to their misery. The visitors didn’t get the best of the conditions, but the difference between the skill sets of the players on either side was incomparable. It was an extra-ordinary bowling exhibition from the English seamers. While Anderson was outstanding with his in-swingers, Stuart Broad wasn’t far behind. A hit-the-deck-hard bowler had suddenly become a genuine swing bowler. Yes, the conditions did favour him but you have to marvel at the skill of the bowling at this level. India have bowled well too, but the penetration and consistency has not been as good as the hosts. Ishant and Shami need to ask a lot more questions to the batsmen. There can’t be a bad ball in the over for the batsman to get easy runs. Addition of Jasprit Bumrah in the next test will certainly help the bowling.
While the hosts have a few issues with their top order, Indian batting looks in complete disarray. Arethe visitors not yet prepared to counter the swing of the Duke’s ball? Or are they just not good
enough to deal with it? Apart from the captain nobody really has looked comfortable which is really
disconcerting. Kohli is suffering with lower back pain which is a cause of concern considering the
upcoming matches. It would be hard to imagine India’s batting in his absence. He has been carrying the burden almost single-handedly in last few games and needs desperate support from the rest.
While the openers are struggling to stay at the wicket, Pujara and Rahane are finding it difficult to
keep the scoreboard moving. Karthik has looked woefully out of touch while Ashwin and Pandya
have batted well in patches. India really need to get things sorted out before the next game if they want to be alive in this series. It’s not all over yet but if the no.1 team in the world continues to
perform this way, the writing is pretty much on the wall.