India-England Test Series 2018
Virat Kohli-led India are trailing 1-2 down in the ongoing 5-match Test series against England. The two sides now face each other in the fourth Test at Southampton starting today. India’s primary job is to focus solely on this mission and there is a feeling that the visitors may wrap up things at the Rose Bowl.
It will not be easy to come and turn things around, but the win at Nottingham gives the side a slight hope. Only once has a team come back from being 0-2 down to win the series 3-2 in 141 years of Test cricket. Sir Donald Bradman and his Australia side achieved the feat 82 years ago in the Ashes.
Can Kohli’s troops do the unthinkable and clinch the series like Bradman’s boys did in 1936-37?
But its too ahead to think of this outcome. India play their final Test of the series at the Kia Oval from September 7 onwards. India have a stiff task ahead. England are definitely going to hit back at the visitors and Kohli’s men need to replicate their Nottingham form to have a say and sniff at this feat. One cannot claim that it is impossible. One has to wait and watch.
But the task before that lies in winning the 4th Test at Southampton. Here we decode why Indian can win the 4th Test at Southampton.
India’s middle order need to bat long
With rain dominating the situation at Southampton, the conditions here will assist pace and swing under an overcast sky. Expect the ball to beat the bat many times and also there will be the odd edges here and there,
The middle order at Nottingham showed enough resistance and the trio of Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane batted longer. That helped the runs flow. The trio need to think smartly and bat long with their heads down and focus on the job ahead to get to a sizeable total.
England’s bowlers will come hard at them, but this is the time to show character and grind it out in the middle. Mental discipline is the key here.
Indian bowlers can do the job
India need 20 wickets to have a real crack at England. The bowlers have done that on two occasions in this series already. Therefore it isn’t something improbable to achieve at the Rose Bowl. With swing on offer and England’s struggles with the bat, one can expect Indian pacers to come out and express themselves.
Ishant Sharma has been fantastic with the new ball. Alastair Cook has had difficulties facing Ishant and the lanky pacer will be effective in creating a mark for himself in making inroads early. To back that, Jasprit Bumrah with the slightly older ball can spark a productive spell. He was stupendous in the 3rd Test and picked 7 wickets.
The likes of Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami need to support both Ishant and Bumrah and need to be consistent in bowling in the right channel unfailingly,
Slip fielding is a bonus
Not that India have been stupendous in the slip cordon, but what we witnessed at Nottingham was a road to recovery. KL Rahul was fantastic and took everything that came his way, That lifted the confidence of everyone around him.
If India can hold on to the catches at the slip cordon, a lot of the match will be on their favour. England have been poorer than India in Test cricket slip catching of late. Some of the batsmen including Kohli were lucky to be put down early in their innings.
So Kohli’s men need to seize the chance and give a better account of themselves.
England’s batting can be targeted
To be honest and assessing England’s batting in Tests, the Joe Root-led side haven’t come together to bat their way through. The management always go back to players, they omitted at the first place. This shows that serious depth is lacking in England’s domestic circuit as well.
At this moment, England’s openers are struggling and the middle order has lacked the finesse. England bat deep and have some genuine match-winners, but the consistency is lacking and so are the runs. That’s where India need to come out and make the difference.
England at times have batted like tourists at their own backyard and that will give India hope. England’s batting line-up is more vulnerable at the moment.
See off the new ball
What Indian openers did at Nottingham was to play out the new ball and chip in with some runs. Partnerships of 60 runs in both innings did India a world of good. Southampton will be a tough ask and the conditions as mentioned earlier will test Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul.
If India can defy James Anderson and Stuart Broad upfront, the situation will be a lot better for the batsmen to follow suit. Both batsmen got some crucial runs to help them mentally and now its time they convert the starts into something more meaningful.