India vs England Test series: Analysis of India's performance
The ongoing five-match Test series between India and England is turning out to be one of the best Test series of recent times.
With both the teams throwing at each other, all that they have, the matches have been a treat for any Test cricket lover.
In the 1st Test match in Edgbaston, the Indian pacers started off well, by bowling out the English team for 287 runs. However, the Indian batsmen failed to cope up with the seamer-friendly English conditions.
All of them, except Virat Kohli, were out cheaply. It was Virat Kohli's exceptional century, that took India close to the English total. Then again, the Indian bowlers put up an extraordinary performance, to bowl England out for just 180 runs in their second Innings. With just 194 runs required, India seemed to be the firm favorites to win the match and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
However, the Indian batsmen once again succumbed to the pace and swing of the English bowling attack and got bowled out for a paltry 162 runs. India lost the match by 31 runs and thus, lost the golden opportunity of being ahead in the series.
The first test match exposed the vulnerability of the Indian batsmen against swing bowling.
In the second Test match at Lord's, the English team fully utilized the weakness of the Indian batting line up. With conditions ideal for seam and swing bowling, the English attack just ran through the Indian batting lineup in both the innings, by bowling them out for just 107 and 130 runs respectively.
It was one of the worst performances by the Indian batting lineup in recent times. They were totally at sea against Anderson, Broad and Woakes. England won the match by an innings and 159 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
After the Lord's debacle, the Indian team seemed to be down and out of the series. A 5-0 whitewash seemed to be the most likely outcome. A drastic change in the batting lineup, along with a change in approach was the need of the hour.
Under such a gloomy backdrop, India went into the 3rd Test match with their backs against the wall. Most of the experts predicted that England would win the 3rd Test and seal the series.
However, Virat Kohli and his boys had other ideas. With a positive start from the new opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul, India started off in a different manner.
Then captain Kohli and vice-captain Rahane stitched an important partnership in the middle order. India scored a respectable 329 in their first innings.
Then with the ball, the Indian pacers again ran through the English batting line up and bowled them out for just 161 runs. By taking all the 10 English wickets in a single session, the Indian bowlers, led by Hardik Pandya, put India right on top.
Then in the second innings, Virat Kohli's century took India's total past 350. England were set a target of over 500 runs in their final innings with two days of the match, still left. Then India bowled England out for 317, to win the match by a big margin and come right back in the series.
With the series nicely poised at 2-1 in favor of England, the 4th Test match became the most important match of the series for both the sides. The rejuvenated Indian team's goal was to win the match and level the series, while England's aim was, to seal the series 3-1.
India began the fourth Test match with a bang, by running through the English top order in the first two sessions of the match. However the lower middle order of England put up an excellent resistance, to take England to 246 runs in their first Innings.
Indian batsmen started off well. But Moeen Ali ran through the middle and lower middle order of India, by taking five wickets. It was Cheteshwar Pujara's lovely unbeaten hundred, that ensured that India could go past the English total and take a slender first Innings lead.
Then again in the second innings, English middle and lower middle order batsmen played very well on a deteriorating pitch. India was set a target of 245 to win the match.
But once again, the Indian batsmen faltered like in the first Test match. They could only score 184 runs in their final innings and hence India ended up on the losing side. England sealed the series 3-1 after their victory in the fourth Test.
In spite of coming very close to victory, India ended up on the losing side in both the first and fourth match. Numerous batting collapses were the main cause of India's failure in this series.
In the last and final test in Oval, upcoming stars like Prithvi Shah and Karun Nair are expected to be included in the playing XI, to strengthen the batting line up. If the Indian batsmen can put up runs on the board, India can hope for a consolation win at the Oval, and end the series 3-2.