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SportCricketThe Great Headingly Disaster: Kohli opting to bat on first day's pitch

The Great Headingly Disaster: Kohli opting to bat on first day’s pitch

Published: 30th Aug 2021 12:03 am

Hyderabad: India lost the plot the moment skipper Virat Kohli made the Himalayan blunder of opting to bat on a first day’s pitch and in cloudy conditions in the third Test in Headingly. To think of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to repeat the Lord’s feat was demolished by the crafty Jimmy Anderson and his trusted lieutenants of Ollie Robinson, Sam Curran and Craig Overton, who ambushed the Indians in helpful seaming conditions to finish off the match as a contest on the first day itself.

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In a way, Kohli and his think-tank themselves invited the Great Leeds debacle to taste an innings defeat. The script went horribly wrong. Instead of capitalising on the magnificent 151-run win at Lord’s, Team India has dented their smooth run by that flip of coin. Kohli might have regretted winning the toss, the only time in recent times. It is still a mystery on Kohli’s decision to bat first.

The conditions were ideal for pace bowlers and with Lord’s spectacular show, Indian speedsters were high on confidence and they could have put England on the backfoot. So far the pace bowlers have been principal performers on this tour with the batsmen, particularly the middle order, putting up an abysmal show.

Therefore it is a logical conclusion that the team has to back the bowlers not the inconsistent and brittle middle order.

The team has to now set its priorities right or take the horses for courses methods. They continue to overlook their premier wicket-taking bowler Ravi Ashwin. It has been one of the big mistakes by the team management. Ravindra Jadeja might have shown his utility as a lower order batsman but his left arm spin has not benefitted the team in this tour so far.

Ashwin could definitely make the difference and leaving out a bowler like him did not go well with the connoisseurs of the game.

Veteran off-spinner Kanwaljit Singh said it was foolish on the part of the team to drop someone like the calibre of Ashwin. “The off-spinner has been the main wicket-taking bowler and the England team would have been happy seeing Ashwin warming the benches.

His subtle variations and his ability to take wickets could have been an ideal foil to the pace bowlers. But strangely the team stuck with Jadeja, who lacked variety in his bowling. Even Axar Patel would have been better choice as a bowler than Jadeja,” he said.

But the low streak of runs by Kohli has hurt India a lot. Falling to the trap of English bowlers who attacked on and around corridor of his off stump, Kohli has run into a blind alley. His aggressive antics have not gone well with the England team especially during Lord’s Test and bowlers like Anderson get that extra josh to go full throttle at Kohli.

It is a marked contrast to the sublime form of Kohli’s counterpart Joe Root. A man of few words, unlike the abrasive Kohli, the English skipper is literally making his bat to talk with three centuries on the trot. As a silent and skillful operator, Root destroyed India, single-handedly.

Cheteshwar Pujara may have saved his blushes for now with that free-flowing 90 in the second innings but has he run back to form or the team has to look for alternative arrangement? So is the case of Ajinkya Rahane who continues to enjoy the confidence of his skipper despite being consistently inconsistent. It is time for Ishant Sharma to make way for Umesh Yadav, who has been reduced to a tourist, or Shardul Thakur. We could see the last of Ishant in Tests.

All is not over yet and there are two more Tests to come. India may have realised their mistakes and should make the right and sensible moves for the fourth Test.

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