England won decisive moments throughout the five-match Test series against India to come out worthy champions with a 4-1 margin. The 5th Test at the Oval took off from where England left at Southampton and it was a convincing victory in the end. Virat Kohli’s side lost the final Test by 118 runs to see their issues outside the subcontinent maximise.
For all that we witnessed, it must be stated that Virat Kohli’s men need to come strong together as a unit and will need to move on from their bit part contributions here and there. Kohli had a fantastic series with the bat after amassing 593 runs, but his decision making on the field at times was woeful.
Having said that, the star players of the team let him down with no consistency on offer. If India is to do well in the 2018-19 series against Australia, they need to perform collectively as an una. Kohli cannot do it alone and his team needs to rise step by step and bring in the solutions.
The team needs a slight fix in terms of personnel and a lot of mental character going forward. It was another Test match where the side lost the momentum in crucial times and surrendered the impetus. Here are the talking points from the Oval Test as England pocketed the series 4-1.
Cook defines greatness with heroism in farewell
Alastair Cook perhaps had saved his best for the final Test. He was a different Cook altogether at the Oval, which has always been a happy hunting ground for him. As he bid adieu to 13 years of service for England, Cook left us with a feeling of gratitude and thanksgiving.
One of the finest gentlemen of the game, Cook left behind the gloom of not managing to score runs off late since that double ton in the 2017-18 Ashes. The 71 in the first innings was backed by a majestic century where he defied the Indian bowlers happily. His application against spin was spot on as he swept freely. The lustful drives returned as well and here was Cook who had something to build upon.
The southpaw never believed in the hype and called it quits with dignity. There is often a saying that nice guys finish last, but Cook busted the myth and showed it isn’t a necessary tale.
Rahul saves his Test career
Indian opening batsman KL Rahul was in a line of danger after a disastrous 4 successive Test matches. After a 37 in the first innings at the Oval, it was looking like Rahul’s Test career will soon come to an end for the time being. But the Bengaluru boy had different approach in the final innings altogether.
This was the Rahul we wanted to watch in Test cricket. His 149 was one of the best tons in world cricket in recent times. The pace in which he played was terrific and given that India were 2/3, he drew inspiration from somewhere and batted to give an indication he belongs here.
Rahul shared two crucial century-plus stands and although India lost the match, he ended on a strong note. He played according to what the situation demanded and showed he can play longer innings.
India hopeless against spin
One can see clearly here that despite being touted as the best to handle spinners, the Indian Test team once again surrendered the game against spin. It’s a recurring problem for the visitors in England where they fall short against spin bowling.
Ajinkya Rahane looked well set on 37 and needed to bat out to give India a hope of a draw. But he played a nothing shot off Moeen Ali’s bowling. The two other set batsmen Rahul and Rishabh Pant too were dismissed in a crucial situation against spin bowling.
Credit should be given to Rashid Ali for bowling superbly and Moeen picked the big fish – Rahane to halt India’s fightback. If Southampton was disastrous, then the Oval too was nothing short of ordinary.
Anderson deserves a shout
James Anderson, who was at his best this series, tormented the Indian batting line-up ball-after-ball with his swing bowling. Anderson’s five wickets against India at The Oval took him past Australia great Glenn McGrath and on to 564 wickets.
Anderson finished with the highest tally of wickets (24) in the series to define his greatness. He was helped by his strike partner Stuart Broad, who kept the intensity going with his knack of picking up wickets at crucial junctures.
Anderson’s full length deliveries to get Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara trapped LBW was a sight worthy of being called Test match brilliance. His approach in the first innings was clever against both Pujara and Rahane.
India have an option outside Ashwin
Ravindra Jadeja may have played the second fiddle to R Ashwin in the ongoing Test series against England, but when he was given an opportunity, he came out and stepped up. Jadeja was exceptional with the ball in this Test and his 4/79 in the first innings helped him settle.
The key wickets of the dangerous Jos Buttler (89) and Stuart Broad (38) on Day 2. Jaddu picked an additional 3 scalps in the 2nd innings. On the other hand, the best aspect of Jaddu’s batting was the way he neutralised the threat posed by England bowlers in the first session.
Jadeja batted sensibly and built a partnership with Hanuma Vihari. From there on, he took the initiative and got India to a decent score of 292. He remained stranded on 86* and should have got a century. Mohammed Shami could have shown more grit.
Jadeja has shown the management that he is cut out for the big stage and is no less than Ashwin in taking up the mantle. India can rely on him in upcoming series against Australia later this year, especially if Ash doesn’t perform.