Though the face of Indian cricket has changed since 2011, it appears not much else has.
What should have been a fantastic series with India’s ‘new to Test match’ team and England coming in from a slump with Alastair Cook under tremendous pressure regarding his captaincy and tactics especially after the series against Sri Lanka, turned out to be nothing more than a replay of the 2011 whitewash.
The series started well, both teams appeared evenly matched with the first test ending in a draw and India taking the second by 95 runs.
However from then on it was England’s series. Cook found form and England took complete control of the next three Tests. India lost the final Test by an innings and 244 runs, their third biggest margin ever. Joe Root and Gary Ballance scored more than 500 runs each, a feat last achieved by England in 2011 against India where Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen pummeled India.
Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir scored a combined total of 147 in 10 innings and India’s star ‘chaser’ Virat Kohli averaged a measly 13.40, the third lowest average for a top four Indian Batsman. Kohli’s reputation was the only thing that kept him in the team for all five tests. It was very clear from the beginning he was out of nick and yet his presence appeared unquestioned. Bringing players like Rohit Sharma and Naman Ojha – who played superbly in Australia – to sit on the sidelines whilst India’s ‘wonderboy’ is caught behind by either the keeper or slips seven out of ten times seems completely unfair. Kohli needs to earn his place, especially in the Test team.
However the most perplexing outcome of the series was India’s number 3 batsman who averaged only 22.20 runs, the lowest of any Indian no.3 batsman. Bearing in mind this man had been primed for Test match cricket and kept out of some one day cricket. He had been aptly described as ‘The Wall 2.0’ yet Cheteshwar Pujara was often dismissed softly after a solid start.
Bar Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma’s performance in the first two tests, India’s bowling appeared to be no threat to then England batsmen. Unfortunately for Pankaj Singh – whose figures did not justly reflect his performance – it is unlikely he will be picked again anytime soon after he gained his new title of ‘most expensive debutant without a wicket.’ England on the other hand performed phenomenally well with the ball with Jimmy Anderson picking up 25 (Just as Stuart Broad had done in 2011). However some of the wickets, especially those taken by England’s new spinner Moeen Ali, were from poor batting.
Has the IPL and India’s record for the most number of ODI’s played in a single year by any team ruined India’s chances at ever becoming a top Test match cricket team? do India need to lose some ODIs to finally realise they are in real trouble?