England vs India 2018: Why Virat Kohli’s never-say-die attitude could help India win the Test series
India looked completely down and out after their humiliating defeat at the iconic Lord’s stadium. Nothing seemed to be working for them, players with tremendous potential just didn’t play with confidence. They offered their wicket on a platter and on helpful conditions for the bowlers and England ensured India were made to pay.
It would need an extremely talented, gifted and confident Virat Kohli to bounce back physically and mentally if India were to even think about turning around their fortunes in this Test series. India need to forget what happened in the first two Tests and start afresh- something easier said than done.
They needed their skipper’s never give up, and confident attitude to rally the team and ensure that everyone performs to the best of their ability and leave the results to take care of itself.
Virat Kohli’s backing of non-Test specialists pays rich dividends
Virat Kohli is not shy of going against the norm. He doesn’t back down when it comes to aggression on the field and that is very much carried on to each team member’s demeanour on the field.
He is a captain who refuses to stick to the proven formula of picking only Test match specialists to win him Test matches. Ravindra Jadeja, the #3 ranked bowler in world cricket couldn’t find a place in VK’s side to face off against England. He was preferred for the mercurial, yet extremely talented all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Pandya had two games where everyone was left in a state of confusion about his role in the side. Is he a batting all-rounder who can bowl few overs or he is a bowling all-rounder who can chip in with the bat. In the first two games, neither his batting or his bowling made any impact.
In a do-or-die situation, Hardik Pandya delivered on the constant backing and support he has received from the team management by producing a spell of quality seam bowling. He bought in the wicket-keeper and slip fielders a little closer and constantly hit the seam on a good length.
That’s where he can exploit the England batting line-up’s vulnerability to the fullest. And in a display of quality bowling where he grabbed a well-deserved five wickets haul he left England reeling. And he carried that confidence into his batting as he went to bludgeon the English bowling on route to a quick fire 68.
It just proves that after Sourav Ganguly if any Indian captain has vociferously gone on to back certain players to come good irrespective of the flak he may receive, it should be Virat Kohli. Hardik Pandya still has lots to prove in the test match format to keep his place.
But it’s always good to have the backing of your skipper, especially when the odds are against you. A recent example of that would be the all-round effort of Hardik Pandya against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.
And not to forget the performance of Jasprit Bumrah who came back from a finger injury to get a five-wicket haul in the second innings that ensured India went on to win the game. And we mustn’t forget that there was Umesh Yadav in the squad who could have replaced Kuldeep Yadav for the third Test match.
But VK strongly stands by certain players who he provides all the support to and looks like that’s rubbing off rather well especially after their performances in the Trent Bridge Test match.
India’s confidence and self-belief gives them the chance to create history
If anyone were to say that this Indian team can bounce back in this Test series, not many would have echoed that sentiment even if they were hardcore Indian fans. As the team looked lost, directionless and lacked basic self-belief to tackle the might of the English bowling attack.
Post the drubbing received at the Lord’s stadium, India needed to get their team sorted. With the opening position causing lot of headaches, they went in with KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan and they delivered in ensuring they batted time and managed to bring in VK post the 30th over when the ball lost some of its sheen.
Once the openers had a reasonable partnership, the middle order could build a competitive score. The very fact that India needed more batsmen to step up apart from VK was rectified in this game. Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli had a solid partnership in the first innings, not to forget the skipper’s outstanding century in the second innings.
That positivity carried into the bowling unit as well. While Ravi Ashwin couldn’t play much of a part in the first innings, the other bowlers Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Hardik Pandya exploited the fragile England batting line up and ensured India had a substantial lead that they built on to bat England out of the game.
India’s confidence is sky-high now. They have truly turned around their fortunes. A bunch of players who lacked self-belief in the first two games turned things around brilliantly. England’s batting mainstays Joe Root and Alistair Cook have looked completely out of form so far, making their batting look weak.
It seems highly improbable that India can replicate their performance in the next two games. But with England low on confidence and India riding high on confidence, it’s not wrong to believe and hope for India to come back from 0-2 to win the series 3-2.