The Tale Of The Tail: The struggle of India's lower order
In the recently concluded India-England Test Series, which India lost 4-1, a very important chink in India's armor was exposed: the lower order batting order. Out of the 4 matches that India lost, 3 were very closely fought and could have been won with efforts from the lower-order.
For a very long time, India has been termed a batting country, which is accurate given the less than ideal conditions for seamers. However, over the past few years, Indian seamers have grown in skill and in number. Despite not having their specialist swing bowler, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India put forth a world-class seam attack which consisted of the likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Mohd. Shami. It was termed by many as the best Indian bowling lineup ever.
India had the bowling who gave a good performance but still, India lost 4-1 because their pride; the coveted Indian batting let them down. India have had middle and lower order issues in limited overs formats too but test cricket is different. During the home season of the in 2016-17, the lower order trio of Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that the Indian batting had positive intent till the very end of the innings. Lately, that has not been the case.
In a country like England, where the new ball gets a lot of lateral movement, it is not unusual for the middle order to get exposed early. After being beaten by an innings at Lord's, the opening duo of KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan took it upon themselves to provide the team with a good start, scoring consecutive 50+ partnerships for the first wicket. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara too were their usual selves. However, after Virat Kohli, the batting line-up seemed to taper off, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik were unable to shepherd the lower order and guide India to victory on multiple occasions.
One might say that you cannot expect so much from batsmen in a country like England where bowlers seem to have the upper hand but the likes of Sam Curran and Chris Woakes did seem to take the game away from India with their lower-order performances.
In the modern game of cricket, there are no tail-enders, just lower order batsmen.