The Beauty of a 5 match series
As a cricket aficionado in India, it gives me great joy when India does well in an overseas Test match and series, as they are so few of them and quite far between. And so it comes as no surprise that today's victory over England at Nottingham gave me and around one billion other Indians a reason to smile.
First reason is the manner and the margin of the victory, which has banished the blues that we had carried over from Lord's, and the second being that India is still alive in this Test series and 3-2 is still a possibility, although it's still pretty early to even think about making such predictions.
For all the tribulations and censure that Kohli and his boys have went through in the first couple of games, this Test match, pleasantly, has been the complete opposite. Although the start was a tad shaky. After being put into bat by Joe Root, India consolidated their position in the test, first with the partnership between Kohli and Rahane and then with their bowling performance in the first innings where Hardik Pandya blasted through the English middle order.
But the thing which gave a lot of people great joy was India's catching behind the wicket. Pant and Rahul, in particular, along with the others held onto almost everything. This wasn't the case until before this Test match.
Kohli then increased the crescendo of misery on the three lions when he grinded his way to yet another Test match century in the second innings. The way he batted in this innings was particularly delightful for the fact that he was ready to be stubborn and almost batted in a Dravid-esque manner and he made sure he converted the 50 into a 100 this time, after missing out in the first innings.
It's almost second nature now for us to expect him to score a 100 when he crosses the 50 mark in the Test arena, a trait that is taking him to great lengths in his pursuit of being counted among the best to have ever played the game.
And a trait or rather the lack of it, which is making Joe Root a shadow of Virat Kohli. The misery came to an end when India declared with 520 runs in the bank and a full six sessions of bowling at their disposal. By that time, the result was a mere formality.
Bumrah and Co. ran havoc and the only little resistance came in form of a century from Butler and a half century from Stokes, who was a last minute addition to the squad having won his trial last week.
With two Tests still to play, this is where the beauty of a five Test match series kicks in. Earlier this year in South Africa, Indians lost the series 2-1, but many believed that had there been two more matches, the Indian team could have definitely given a good shot at winning or even leveling the series.
It took time to get acclimitised to the conditions and the lack of enough practice games before an important series is what the Indians on the back foot from the start. The same seemed to have happened here and now that they are well used to the conditions, a series win doesn't seem impossible especially given the problems the English have in their ranks.
Although they lead the series 2-1, it almost seems like they have more problems to deal with than the Indian team. Their keeper Bairstow, who has been the best English batsman this series, seems doubtful having injured his thumb, Cook and Jennings seem to be fighting for their test careers at the top with both being horribly out of form and then, there is the case of dropped catches and fatigue with the fast bowlers.
All in all, if Kohli and his boys can keep this form going, especially the batting, a series victory is not far away, however idiosyncratic it may seem.