After winning the first Test it was thought that India might face a sterner challenge from the visitors, who have landed on the Indian soil with a certain purpose and which are to repeat the feat of that amazing winter of 2012. The Test series against Sri Lanka was supposed to serve as the perfect platform for the big series – well, despite having the advantage, the English melted as the series progressed.
After winning the first Test in Chennai by the margin of 227 runs, England were put in their place over the course of the next three matches, India turning up the intensity with consecutive wins by 317 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings and 25 runs.
The last two Test matches in Ahmedabad spanned less than five days between as they managed fewer runs across four innings (533) than they had made in more in the first innings of 578 at Chepauk.
The results were embarrassing and quite unexpected.
One reason for this embarrassment could be the lack of resolve among the English batters.
There had been a lot of debate about the nature of the tracks in India and the debate regarding the pitch especially that of the third Test, masked the shortcomings of the English batters.
To be honest, England lacked the patience to spend time at the crease and the technique to counter the spinners. Obviously, there exists a school of thought, and which is, the English batsmen are not well-equipped against the spinners, and on rank-turners, they succumb. Still, over the years, they seemed to have overcome the fear-factor against the turning ball – because, even if short-in-technique, still, by exhibiting resolve, the English batters overcame the battles against the spinners.
Resolve is very important in Test batsmanship when a batsman has chinks in his armory against the pace or spin. In such cases, occupying the crease becomes the most important component of batsmanship because the more time you spend at the crease, the more adapt to the conditions and bowlers and figure out how to tackle the bowlers.
Joe Root should have played that role since that outstanding knock at Chennai.
Sadly, after that, he was nowhere near that temperament and technique displayed in Sri Lanka and Chennai in the first Test.
Still, he managed 368 runs in this Test, courtesy of that knock in Chennai, at an average of 46 while Ben Stokes’ 203 runs at 25.37 fell way short of the levels that his side needed to stay in touch.
The rest of the batters had been shoddy – especially Jonny Bairstow experienced an absolute nightmare of a series – in his most recent nine Test innings against India, he had failed to score on six occasions, with a top score of 28 and an average of 5.77.
Since May 2018, Bairstow has averaged 23.17 in 22 Tests. For a man who averages 50.74 in first-class cricket for Yorkshire –this performance had been utterly frustrating. Perhaps, he would be replaced, and to don the white shirt again, he needs to fight back.
“It was disappointing,” Root said afterward. “Credit does have to go to India, they’ve generally out-skilled us. They showed us how to bat on that wicket, and similarly today with the ball they were excellent.”
“We’ve just got to keep working together to try and find ways of being better in similar conditions in the future,” he added.
This England team has the quality to conquer testing conditions but it is very important that they realize how good they are and work on the basics.