IND vs ENG: Virat Kohli’s Team India thumped Joe Root-led England at Lord’s by 151 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match Test series. India started the final day on the backfoot but an inspired show by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami with the bat not only helped India crawl back but also helped them emerge victorious in the home of cricket. Not to forget the vital contributions from KL Rahul and Mohammed Siraj. While the opener etched his name on the Lord’s honours board, Siraj with a match haul of eight wickets dismantled the England batting line-up.
While the win at Lord’s was historic, Team India needs to address some issues before heading to Headingley. The middle-order is largely struggling, especially with skipper Kohli, yet to find form. There will also be a school of thought of bringing back veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as spin hasn’t been effective, so far in the series.
IND vs ENG: The 1-0 lead looks great on paper but it could be deceiving. During the 2014 England tour, it was a similar template. India drew the first Test at Nottingham and then won at Lord’s before being blown away in the next three matches. England won the third Test by 266 runs, the penultimate Test by an innings and 54 runs and the final Test by an innings and 244 runs to win the series. Considering that, Kohli and his men will aim to avoid complacency and iron out their weaknesses.
InsideSport takes a look at three problems that Virat Kohli & Co. need to address.
Ailing middle-order: Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara might have pulled off a great escape playing under extreme pressure to stitch a match-saving 69-run stand but the fact that they haven’t been in good form will definitely be a concern for Team India. With Suryakumar Yadav joining the squad in Lord’s, India does have an option and Pujara might be left out despite a gritty 45 in testing conditions.
IND vs ENG: Virat Kohli’s poor form: While Pujara and Rahane did well to save India the blushes with a 100-run stand, the primary concern is skipper Kohli’s poor run of form. In England so far, the India captain has scored 44 & 13, 0, 42 & 20 and that is costing India dearly. With Kohli not among the runs, the pressure mounts on a misfiring Ajinkya Rahane. The England bowlers have found a way to keep Kohli quiet and going ahead, the skipper needs to find a way to counter the swing and dominate the attack.
Rishabh Pant’s struggle in England: Rishabh Pant is a crucial cog in India’s batting line-up. Head coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Kohli have openly backed Pant to play his flamboyant natural game. The wicketkeeper’s aggressive style of play worked in Australia, and Pant continued his fine form against England when they toured India. But, his approach is not yielding the desired results for the team.
IND vs ENG: One primary reason behind Pant’s lack of success in the English soil is his inability to play against the moving Duke ball. He is hasty and often gives away his wicket to hand the momentum to the opposition. Pant has scores of 4, 41, 25, 37 & 22 in England this time. He got starts on four occasions but failed to convert into big ones. Pant needs to curb his attacking instincts, at least during the initial passage of play, bide his time and then stamp his authority. With the series still wide open, the wicketkeeper-batsman’s contribution with the willow will be critical for India’s success. Because, Shami and Bumrah won’t be able to forge a record stands for ninth wicket in every Test.