India v England, 1st Test: What happened and why?
England showed their competency and form as they beat India in the first Test match by 227 runs. Their bowlers took less than 60 overs to bowl out India in the fourth innings as India slumped to their first home test defeat since 2017. Here we discuss the factors that defeated India at home so badly after a tremendous tour in Australia.
Root and Anderson: best beginning and climax
Root was the central character of England’s first innings, and it was his magical innings that gave the visitors a solid foundation. He scored 218 runs in style and became the first English batsman to reach a double hundred with a six. His 100th Test match and Root scored hundreds in each of the last three Tests he played.
He also became just the second batsman to pass 180 in three successive Tests, after Kumar Sangakkara. Winning the toss, Root had no dilemma in choosing to bat, and he proved why as he became only the 9th batsman to have scored a hundred in his 100th Test match.
Moreover, he became the first batsman to score a double century in his 100th Test match. Root, who played his first, 50th, and 100th Test in India, has impressive numbers while playing in the sub-continent. In seven successive Tests in India, Root has got at least one fifty-plus score.
In Asia, Root has smashed centuries in three consecutive Test matches, and he is just the 8th batsman to do so. Class is permanent, and Root has proved why he should not be forgotten while discussing the best contemporary batsmen.
James Anderson proved that he is genuinely good and does not always have to trust the conditions for his effectiveness. Anderson’s struggles in Asia were evident in 2007-08 when he toured India and averaged 68.50 with the ball. He had a forgetful tour in 2016 and 2018 when he averaged 53.50 and 105, respectively.
The numbers were enough to ask about his ability in Asia at the beginning of the series. But the 38-year-old worked on his game in the last few years and had a striking outing in Chennai. On the fifth and final day of the Test match, when England was aiming for a win and had absolutely nothing for the pitch’s fast bowlers, Anderson proved his worth.
He was on fire and started his hunting by taking Gill with a ripper. He similarly dismissed Ajinkya Rahane three balls later. Rishabh Pant was his third victim of the second innings as Anderson baffled him with a moving ball that angled in.
Ashwin-Kuldeep, possible duo to save India
Indian cricket team failed to replicate the Australian fairy tale at home in the first Test match against England. Chennai saw a terrible collapse of the home side despite the comeback of regular captain Virat Kohli and key players like Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma. The bowlers had to toil really hard, especially during England’s first innings when the visitors set for a massive target based on Joe Root’s double ton.
Jasprit Bumrah did impress one and all in his first-ever Test on home soil. But in the spinning department, the Indian cricket team really lacked variety. Ravichandran Ashwin has already established himself as one of the best contemporary spinners and India’s prime weapon. He did not disappoint despite not having good enough support from the other two. Ashwin took three wickets for 146 runs in 55.1 overs in the first innings and went on to take six wickets in the second innings for just 61 runs in 17.3 overs.
However, the performances of Washington Sundar and Shahbaaz Nadeem was not up to the mark. Nadeem was included in place of Kuldeep Yadav. However, playing his second Test, Nadeem lacked confidence and was visible from the number of no-balls he bowled, being a left-arm orthodox spinner.
On the other hand, Ashwin interestingly bowled the first no-ball of his Test career after more than 20,000 deliveries. But too much dependency on the senior will not give the result the hosts are aiming for in the upcoming matches.
It is Nadeem’s performance that once again created quite a buzz among the netizens regarding Kuldeep Yadav. A couple of years back, the head coach of the Indian team, Ravi Shastri, hailed Kuldeep Yadav as India’s go-to spinner for all upcoming overseas Test matches. But Yadav has not played a single Test match since the same time. He could be seen with the traveling team on most occasions but never received a call.
The last Australia tour was no exception. Nadeem got the nod this time and gave enough reasons to the fans and experts to question Kuldeep Yadav’s management. Out of six Test matches, Yadav has played three so far at home and taken 14 wickets at an economy of 3.61 with a five-wicket haul. Although, according to the skipper Kohli with two off-spinners in the line-up, “Kuldeep becomes more or less same kind of spinner taking the ball away,” the argument of excluding Yadav in such a scenario does not seem very solid.
Fortunately, Virat Kohli did not rule out the chance of trying out combinations. Kuldeep Yadav has not been in the arena for quite some time. Yadav might have issues and might not click at the first chance. But it’s high time that Indian cricket team management should have a clear thought regarding him. They need to have a clear vision regarding Yadav’s future or not help any of the sides. Kuldeep Yadav should be given a few chances as it will also ease out some pressure from Ravi Ashwin.
Jadeja, batting failures, nervous nineties
Another reason of India’s failure in Chennai which was little too evident. Ravindra Jadeja is being missed, and there’s nothing Indian team management can do. His injury has been proving to be a huge blow for the side. As Sunil Gavaskar already mentioned after the Chennai Test match, dropping Washington Sundar after his heroics in Australia was difficult.
In fact, Sundar proved to be effective with the bat during India’s first innings with an unbeaten 85 to his name. After the top-order collapse, it was important and gave stability to the lower-order. He ended up as the second-highest run-scorer as well. But Sundar is not Jadeja.
The solidity and faithfulness Jadeja brings to the side are unmatched and unparalleled. His presence matters when the team is crumbling. He has done it several times; he has taken the Indian team out of troublesome situations in several matches.
Most importantly, Jadeja is the perfect all-rounder any team longs for. He gives timely breakthroughs with the ball; he scores run when the biggest names fail. Consistency is another aspect, so one doesn’t expect Sundar to repeat his heroics but shows full confidence in Jadeja.
Since Jadeja would not be available soon, at least in this series, it is time for the Indian senior batsmen to gear up. They had a forgettable Test match. Rohit Sharma could manage just six and 12 runs, and yet again, his Test inclusion is being questioned by a section. Ajinkya Rahane, who had a blissful tour in Australia as captain and batsman, could get just one run in two innings.
People who were demanding Rahane as captain in Test format after the series Down Under are now busy with his numbers to prove his inconsistency. Cheteshwar Pujara did not fail as such but definitely did not live up to expectations. When the team needs concrete batting performances, these failings become too evident.
Virat Kohli amassed a fine 72 but the first innings were more crucial to contribute with just 11. The top-order batsmen must not forget that Mayank Agarwal can be considered anytime in one of those slots. Thankfully, the youngsters Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant proved their worth yet again.
Pant has played only three Test matches in India so far and got dismissed in 90+ scores thrice. His nineties’ conversion rate to centuries is the joint second-worst of any Test batsman to have reached 90 at least five times. This is alarming. Gill has already started giving a hint of relief when he comes to bat. He must continue to deliver, and a good knock in the next match from the opener will give the entire line-up much-needed confidence.