England's guide to digest Kul-Cha: A tale of turning tables
England team has bounced back in style after the T20 series. Not only did the hosts got the better of the guests in 2nd and 3rd ODI matches, they managed to dominate in every aspect of the game. This is a wake-up call for India, not just for the ongoing tour but also for the World Cup that will take place in the English conditions next year.
In the last 2 ODIs, it's easy to spot that the English bowlers and batsmen complemented each other and worked in unison to put team India under pressure. It's the other way around for the Indian team. Before the start of the series, it was well known that the English conditions will take the guests to the limits and one can see it happen now. Nevertheless, the Indian team is balanced and full of abilities. It won't be fair to underestimate them as the Test Series is about to commence from 1st of August.
One of the major reasons behind India's dominance over England in the T20 series and the 1st ODI was the wrist spinner, Kuldeep Yadav. He, in particular, impressed the fans and experts alike by delivering some of the finest spin performances of his career.
Kuldeep bamboozled the English batsmen, from top order to the lower order, until the hosts took the charge later on. The hosts found it difficult to read the chinaman's wrist position in the earlier games. Even the top-quality spin player, Joe Root, struggled against him. The English team did their homework by studying Kuldeep using the bowling machine "Merlyn" to understand the angle, the wrong'uns, and the flight Kuldeep utilized against them.
The counterattack game against Kuldeep led by Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow worked in favour of the hosts in the 2nd T20 but when Kuldeep decimated the English batting line-up by producing his career-best spell of 10-0-25-6 in the 1st ODI, the English batsmen studied him even more and didn't allow him to dominate them in the next two games.
Now, let's talk about Yuzvendra Chahal. Things haven't been good for the talented wrist spinner in England. Well-known for his wicket-taking abilities, he has struggled to bag some throughout the tour. In 3 T20 matches, he managed to scalp only one wicket in the form of Joe Root. In 3 ODI matches, he picked up only 2 wickets. However, he bowled well in T20s and was economical on certain occasions. Same thing in ODI series.
Let us take a look at Kul-Cha's (as the spin-duo of Kuldeep and Chahal are affectionately referred to) performances in the T20 and ODI series:
One of the major issues with Chahal was that the English batsmen were able to read him. With Kuldeep, things were different. Chahal did employ variations in his spells like leg-breaks and flippers but only managed to be economical, not successful in terms of wickets. He had been struggling with the form and was under a lot of pressure.
When the duo of Kul-Cha was exerting dominance over the English batting line-up, the ability of English batsmen to play wrist spin was questioned. During the T20 series, English players worked hard and strategized well against Kuldeep that reaped rewards in the 2nd T20.
However, when things turned sour again for England after Kuldeep's 6 wicket-haul in the 1st ODI, Eoin Morgan said that the wrist-spin of Kuldeep exposed an area of their game they needed to improve upon and that's exactly what England did.
Joe Root, being one of the finest batsmen in the world right now, is an excellent player of the spin and he took the charge against spinners after a poor showing in the T20 series. He scored two consecutive centuries in the 2nd and 3rd ODI. At no. 4, the skipper Eoin Morgan did a great job against the spinners and reversed the pressure. The top-order players like Jason Roy and Bairstow did well too.
The 1st Test Match is scheduled to be played from Aug 1-Aug 5 at the Edgbaston, Birmingham. The 5-match Test-series will be an absolute test of these two fine sides. India would definitely try to dominate and hence, the spin bowling department would be given a lot of thought. Kuldeep has played only 2 Test matches so far but has certainly earned the right to feature in the Test series. Chahal has never been a part of the Indian Test squad.
India has some fine spin options to try. The slow left-arm orthodox Axar Patel was on the bench in the limited overs but is yet to earn the Test cap. India has two phenomenal finger spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who have played a lot of test matches. The Test squad announcement for the Indian team by the BCCI is expected shortly. It will be interesting to see what the selectors have in mind for the spin department.