Legendary Indian opener, Sunil Gavaskar, in an exclusive interview with NDTV has questioned India's tactical nous against the English batsmen as they piled up 537 runs in the first innings of the opening Test of the five-match test series in Rajkot. Interestingly none of the visiting teams which scored 500+ in the first innings against India in India (25 have scored) have lost the Test.
Gavaskar also questioned Kohli's field placements against the new batsmen at the crease. An in-out field against the new batsmen at the crease allowed easy singles and allowed them to get comfortable at the crease. He was appalled at India's bowling tactics too.
"Moeen Ali has a weakness against the short ball. We hardly saw a short ball bowled at him during his hundred and we have two bowlers [Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami] capable of bowling in excess of 140kmph. The in-out field to the new batsmen allowed them to be comfortable at the crease", Gavaskar added.
Indians put down a number of catches in the two days, with as many as three going down in the slip cordon in the first session of the Test. Gavaskar expressed his dismay at the slip fielding technique of the Indian fielders.
"The Indian slip fielding has been questionable. All of them stand in an upright position and hence end up missing the catches that drop near their ankles. I don't know who has advised them to do so. Only Ajinkya Rahane has the right catching technique. If I was a bowler, I wouldn't be very confident about these catchers," Gavaskar said in his interview with NDTV.
Asked about India's chances of matching England's score, Gavaskar said that the openers had set a strong base and India need to build on that and look to avoid the follow-on initially before trying to match the English total. He felt that the pitch may not break up so much even during the fourth and fifth days and so the team batting last may not face as many issues against the spinners.
England though bat pretty deep and have a terrific record in 2016 as far as runs from the lower order are concerned. All 11 of their players have first-class hundreds to their name and Bairstow alone has scored more than 1000 runs from no.6 in 2016.
"If you look at the 22 players playing in this Test, 21 have first class hundreds under their belt. The only person who does not have a 100 is Mohammad Shami. It actually tells us how strong the England batting is [ all 11 have first-class hundreds]. What it has allowed Alastair Cook is to be able to balance the team with 3 spinners and 3 seamers, which is a fantastic combination", Gavaskar stated when asked about England's batting depth in comparison to India's.
He stated that although India have managed to exploit the turn on offer on Tests at home of late, a lot is left to be desired tactical-wise. As far as batting is concerned, he said it will be tough for India to come out and bat after being on the field for one and half days but the openers have made it easier by getting a good start.
India had made a sound start on Day 2, in reply to England's huge total and were at 63/0 at the close of play. Although the English total is a long way away, the true nature of the pitch should help batting and India have the batsmen to capitalize on the conditions on offer.
However, going by Gavaskar's statements, India need to tighten up their tactical game if they are to overcome the huge deficit created by England's batsmen. The next time England bat would be the right time to correct some of the mistakes India made while bowling in the first innings.
But for them to have a fair go at English batsmen, India need to come somewhere close to the England total, if not exceed it.