No excuse for the lack of fight batsmen showed, their inability to bat with patience in testing circumstances
There was none of the usual defiance about Virat Kohli when he turned up for his post-match press-conference on Sunday. Instead, he appeared wounded and disappointed, accepting with a shrug of the shoulders that his side had been poor. At least in Birmingham and in the first two Tests in South Africa earlier this year there was the consolation that India had competed, battled to the end and left everyone with the feeling that a good result seemed only a matter of time. At Lord’s any such belief was blown to smithereens. India came away looking distinctly second-best, a level below an opponent that had exploited conditions to the hilt.
In reality, though, the difference between the first Test and the second was merely Kohli. At Edgbaston, the captain’s 200 runs had given the team’s performance a veneer of respectability. Without another large contribution from him, the side was embarrassed against relentlessly accurate swing and seam bowling. Yet again, India’s batting failed under tough examination.
In theory, it is all easy: play close to the body, do not throw your hands at the ball, play with a straight bat, do not play around your front pad. In practice, though, it is hard for a batsman to make these adjustments in the space of a few days, when it is not in his nature to bat this way. It is harder still to deal with two masters of their craft such as James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who do not have 977 Test wickets between them for no reason. It is too late to complain about preparatory first-class games and scheduling; there is little that can be done about it now.
But there is no excuse for the lack of fight India’s batsmen showed, their inability to bat with patience —if not flair — in testing circumstances. In the second innings, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and R. Ashwin seemed prepared to grind it out; the rest, however, were disappointing.
“You have to find ways of countering that situation which I think we have failed to do as batsmen, myself included in this game,” Kohli said. “We haven’t had any sort of partnerships in this game. Only 50 with Hardik (Pandya) and Ash (R. Ashwin) in this innings. Nothing of any substance before or after that. We need to make sure we get a 60, 70, 80-run partnership and try and build that into a big partnership or have three or four partnerships of 60 or 70-odd.”
M. Vijay’s dip in form is worrying, as is the nature of Dinesh Karthik’s dismissals. The wicket-keeper made his Test debut 14 years ago; to see him bowled through a large gap between bat and pad in the first innings was unacceptable.
Kohli, though, believes that India’s problems are all mental. “I don’t see any technical deficiency. If a batsman is clear in the head and he’s clear about the plans he’s making, then even if the ball does something off the pitch, he’s able to counter it. I’ve experienced in the past that if my head’s clouded, I feel the ball can do this, or that, or even that. You know there are three-four scenarios that run in your head. You can’t come here and think the conditions are too difficult because they are really not if you’re prepared to counter them. Any conditions in the world can be as easy or as difficult [as you make them out to be].”
Kohli may believe that but his colleagues have to be prepared to scrap.
Source: Read Full Article