A mammoth task at hand for India
The current Test Series between India and England is still very much alive, thanks to some pathetic performances by the Indians and some brilliant cricket from the Englishmen. Most of us would not have expected India to be dominated by England, that too in their own backyard; what with the visitors’ poor performances against Pakistan, where they went down 3-nothing. Simply outsmarted by the Pakistani spinners, even their best batsmen had no answer to the magic of Saeed Ajmal. And after India’s poor showing when they toured England recently, this was touted as the ‘revenge series’, since people thought India had the upper hand in subcontinental conditions. But to our utter dismay, India has failed miserably after an excellent start in the first test, only to go down meekly in the following two.
The Indians are under immense pressure, with questions being raised of Dhoni’s captaincy and Sachin Tendulkar‘s retirement plans. India can still make amends if they square the series at 2 apiece though. The selectors have already sounded the death knell for certain players, and have induced young blood into the team. But these measures are certainly not enough for India to win. They have to be well prepared in all the departments if they plan on stopping the English. Here are nine suggestions that India could follow:
1. In any batting order, the opening partnership is key. It would be wise if we drop one of the openers and replace him with Ajinkya Rahane. We can’t be sure whether it would be a success, but nobody can argue that Sehwag and Gambhir have shown signs of complacency lately. It would be a wake up call for both of them if either one gets dropped. Moreover, a youngster like Rahane who is eager to prove himself would give it his all. A change in the opening order could work wonders for the team.
2. If at all Ravindra Jadeja makes the playing eleven, he should bat at number 5 rather than number 6, with Kohli pushed further down. This would lend stability to the batting order, having a left hander at that position. Moreover, Kohli would be the ideal partner for Dhoni when it comes to scoring quick runs.
3. The Indian batsmen should look to settle themselves in before going for big shots. “Patience is a virtue” and the Indian batsmen need to realize that. They need to play themselves in without taking any risks while they make the England bowlers toil.
4. Cook’s wicket is crucial to England’s chances. If Cook gets set, then it would be pretty difficult to stop him. Therefore India needs to get him early. In the second innings of the first test, India were able to wrap the England innings quickly because they picked up his wicket early.
5. Ashwin and Ojha need to bowl in the right areas, more fuller than the previous two tests. They need to stick to the basics and should contain the batsmen from scoring freely. Ojha would have better success if he can bowl a bit quicker through the air because it would be difficult for the batsmen to judge the line and length.
6. Dhoni should learn to rotate the bowlers skilfully to avoid fatigue and soreness. He has been over-working the spinners in the last 5 tests, making them bowl spell after spell without adequate breaks. Now that Jadeja is in the team, he should let Jadeja share the workload, thereby letting Ojha and Ashwin have enough rest to come back fresh. He could also throw the ball to Sehwag and Sachin, who are known to provide crucial breakthroughs over the years.
7. It is vital for Sachin, Sehwag and MS Dhoni to score some runs, because they form the core of the batting order. They need to fire in order to take India to safety.
8. The skipper should have an attacking mindset to attack the batsmen even after they have played themselves in. Having fielders around the bat constantly, always plays on the batsman’s mind. Therefore MSD should be innovative while setting up a field.
9. Guidance is required for the youngsters and the seniors should ably guide them in tough situations, giving them confidence.
Of course, this is easier said than done. It would require extreme dedication and belief for India to pull through. Belief is the need of the hour and they need to back themselves and go out there and perform. The rest is in luck’s (Dhoni’s) hands.