As India get ready for the second of the five-Test series against England, they will be aware that they could have been 1-0 up rather than 0-1 down. It was a close match and India would be disappointed at not finishing the job. However, they also need to take heart from what they did right, and fine-tune the areas in which they fell short.
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Going into the Lord’s Test, the performance of the bowlers will give India a lot of hope. Ishant Sharma (1/46 and 5/51) was excellent and got wonderful support from Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. The bonus was the superb bowling spell from R Ashwin (4/62 and 3/59) and, until the end of the match, it was evident the hosts were not able to read him properly.
However, the batting was a reflection of the fact that the top-order needs to really work on their technique, and quickly. Some of the shortcomings I could pick out were that they were too loose, lacked balance and had too much bat speed on their shots. Other than perhaps in London — which is facing an unusually hot summer — the Indian batsmen will have to negotiate the moving ball and they simply need to be tighter and exhibit more balance at the crease.
They also can’t rely on bat speed and go hard at the ball like they do in the subcontinent. They need to play with soft hands and also play and score more runs on the backfoot. The number of catches offered to the slips suggests lack of balance, too many strokes on the front foot and quite simply too many loose shots. The Indians need to take a leaf out of Virat Kohli’s book and tighten up their game.
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He was simply exceptional at Edgbaston durinng his knocks of 149 and 51, and hopefully he will continue his form and also inspire other batsmen.
The team selection, too, needs to be looked into. When batsmen are struggling with the moving ball, it might be a good idea to induct Cheteshwar Pujara into the side. I know he is not in great form, but he has the ability to occupy the crease and just needs time in the middle to rediscover his touch.
It might also be a good idea to play Ravindra Jadeja instead of Hardik Pandya. Jadeja’s spin might be a good foil for the pace trio and Ashwin, and he might also contribute with the bat. It is unfortunate that Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was so good on the last tour, is injured; but Jadeja might give the team balance.
The conditions at Lord’s, especially if it remains warm, might help India.