Hyderabad: The 4-1 result is not the true reflection of the just concluded Test series between India and England. The Virat Kohli-led team ran the home side close before ending losers in the highly competitive series.
Perhaps, the biggest difference between two sides was that the Joe Root’s team won the key moments in four of the five Tests. But the fact remains that India’s high hopes of winning a series in England came crashing down yet again even though there was expectation of Kohli’s men turning the tables on this tour.
The Indians have to wait for another four years before dreaming of any series win in England. The Indian team is set to return to England next year for the one-day World Cup.
It could be a case of many a slip between the cup and the lip. The tragedy was that the Indians had England on the back foot, barring the second Test at Lord’s, but failed to capitalise it.
Skipper Kohli himself admitted that in his post-series press conference in London on Tuesday. The visitors created the pressure but the team was not able to hold that pressure for long enough with the bat and the ball as well. As a result, England took advantage of those situations better than the Indian team.
When the tour started, many cricket pundits predicted India stood a good chance of winning a series in England. Former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin was confident but he also said the batsmen hold the key. As expected, Kohli was the torch-bearer of the Indian batting, but sadly he lacked the support at the other end with Cheteshwar Pujara coming way behind his skipper in terms of runs. The lack of partnerships always proved a big handicap for India. The openers — Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul — failed miserably although the last-named salvaged some lost pride by hitting a brilliant century at the Oval on Tuesday. The Jimmy Anderson-Stuart Broad proved more than a handful to the top order as the two seasoned English pacers gave a fine exhibition of swing and seam bowling.
Kohli, at times, looked lost as he had to fight lonely battle. He got runs and won the mini-battle against Anderson but in the end he failed the test as captain.
The ball moved and that was a problem for the Indian batsman. Azharuddin had said it is all about being patient at the start of the innings. You have to play a waiting game. None of the other batsmen, barring Kohli, did that. India may perhaps have been unlucky in the second Test at Lord’s where they had to bat under difficult conditions. Perhaps, it would have been a different story if India had won the toss and England batted first as Indian pacers could have exploited the conditions, which they did consistently in the series.
As former England pace bowler Mike Selvey said the Indian pace bowlers were outstanding. “In no way, the 4-1 reflects their output.’’ The English batsmen were all at sea against Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Cook, save for the final Test, Jennings, Root, Bairstow all came a cropper against some fiery and hostile fast bowling from the Indians. It forced Cook to comment that the Indian pace attack was best in the world.
However, the inability to finish off the English tail hurt the Indians. Twice in the series, young Sam Curran proved a thorn in the flesh as he took away match when India had seven wickets for 80 runs. It proved to be the turning point. Curran, who also took crucial wickets with his left-arm seamers, was rightly man of the series. Ravichandran Ashwin had mixed bag of returns and he was criticised for not able to turning on the heat in the fourth Test even as Moeen Ali did for England. Hardik Pandya flattered to deceive.
There were positives like G Hanuma Vihari’s fine debut both with the bat and ball or Ravinder Jadeja all-round show in the only Test he played or Rishab Pant’s smashing century in the last Test although there were question marks on his wicketkeeping. But coach Ravi Shastri’s pre-match claim that this was the best touring Indian team in the last 15 years, came to a nought.