Why India lost yet another series on English soil
Another series in England, another series loss and the same disappointing faces. Some may argue that even though the scoreline was 4-1, the series was much closer than it seemed like to be.
The battle was between the batsmen as the bowlers were spot on from both the sides.
England had their noses ahead and the credit went to their lower middle order batting and effective wicket-keeping. Yes, it may come as a shocker to some.
But here's an interesting fact, in this 4-1 scoreline series, England scored 2613 runs and India scored 2458 runs and played an innings more. But, that's not the fact being highlighted here.
Out of those 2613 runs, 100 runs alone were byes. Now if we take out 100 runs from 2613, it would come to 2513 runs. It's not that the result would have been different, but the pressure on the Indian batsmen would have been much lesser (because every run counts in England!) and we would have witnessed a better show.
Another disappointing fact is that India failed to cash in on match-winning situations and literally saw Sam Curran, in particular, take away games from them single-handedly. Curran scored 251 runs coming in at No.8 and took 8 wickets, most of them being the Indian top and middle order batsmen.
Curran even saw the back of Kohli twice. That shows the type of impact he had on this series. India's inability to clean up the tail came to the forefront again and it cost them dearly.
Another problem for the Indian think-tank is the role of Hardik Pandya in the team. The most important question to be answered: is Hardik Pandya a batsman who can bowl a bit, or a bowler who can bat a bit? At the moment, he is a walking wicket who plays a good knock once in a while or delivers with the ball once in a while.
The Indian batsmen also failed to cash in on those precious extra lives (well they did cash in on some, but the ones that they didn't cash in on, cost them big time). Ajinkya Rahane showed glimpses of his old form in patches but this new version of Ajinkya Rahane seems very low on confidence and this can be attributed to the constant chopping and changing in the team composition due to which every time the players step on to the field, play with the fear of failing.
England dropped 15 catches in this series and yet won 4-1. That does tell one a lot. On the other hand, India dropped 13 catches most of them coming from behind the stumps. England cashed in and it mattered a lot.
This is something that India dearly missed. It wasn't such a problem when Dhoni was present in the team. Dinesh Karthik had a horrendous tour which led to his exclusion from the playing XI following the second Test. Rishabh Pant could not replicate his white ball form in the three Tests that he played, consistently.
The most important thing that the management and Virat Kohli need to get right is the team selection. Perhaps one could say that dropping Pujara in the first Test, playing Kuldeep in the seam-friendly overcast conditions at Lord's and playing an injured Ashwin in the all crucial fourth Test in place of Jadeja could have very well sealed the fate for India.
Playing Hardik Pandya despite his struggles with both, bat and ball in place of a specialist batsman also proved to be a deciding factor.
In all, the Indian team needs to show faith in this current team, be consistent with the catching behind the stumps, cash in on match gripping situations, define Hardik Pandya's role in the team and more importantly, be spot on with their team selection.
Winning overseas is always a challenge for any team and this current Indian team gave a glimmer hope that India could taste victory on English soil after years. They showed fight, grit and aggression, and attacked right from ball one.
They shouldn't be disappointed with this performance but keep their heads high because the series was a lot closer than the scoreline suggested and make no mistake, this could be the start of something great, something that many have always wished for and that is, Team India becoming the best traveling side in the world.