The life and cricket of Ajit Wadekar should inspire Virat Kohli and his team as they prepare for the third Test against England starting on Saturday. Wadekar may not have been as talented a batsman as Kohli, but the stylish left-hander could inspire his team to back-to-back series wins against two major international teams of that era, West Indies and England, in 1971.
It’s not that every player in the squad agreed with him but they respected him as captain and made sure the team won. Luck plays a part in any victory, but to call the late Wadekar a lucky captain is unfair. He had the world’s four best spinners and batsmen of class. Wadekar would have gone a happy man had India been 1-1 going into the third Test. Kohli and his boys must regroup and show spine at Trent Bridge.
If only India had somehow squeezed out those 32 runs for victory in the first Test, the loss in the second Test would not have been such an embarrassment. Some who played the game at the highest level and others whose job is to analyse are unanimous that conditions played a major part in England winning the second Test. It is baffling that some former cricketers who backed the selection of Kuldeep Yadav in place of Umesh Yadav or Hardik Pandya, are lambasting Kohli and Ravi Shastri. One of them said even after the first-day washout that Kuldeep should play.
The conditions tell only a part of the story even if one adds the toss to it. The big difference is the Indian pacers, who began well taking the first four wickets, but could not finish the job. The hosts exploited the conditions and Indians did not. This, too, proved decisive.When it came to batting, the Indian top-order tried to make adjustments in technique, but that was of no help. Overcast conditions made the ball swing and seam. As luck would have it, the Indians had the worst of conditions to bat on the second and fourth day while England batted when the sun was out on the third day. One can offer any number of excuses, but the fact remains that Indian batsmen were found wanting.
One can keep debating whether it was great bowling or simply the technical ineptitude of the batsmen that resulted in the debacle. To be fair to India’s batsmen, every dismissal looked as if it was the result of an unplayable ball. If James Anderson doesn’t, Chris Broad will get you. After them, there are two others to keep up the pressure. Before the game the Indians were wondering who should be the spinning partner of R Ashwin and ironically the lone spinner in the England line-up Adil Rashid did not bowl at all.
What are India’s options for the third Test? The batsman they can try is Karun Nair, only the second Indian to score a triple hundred in Tests. The other change could be Rishabh Pant in place of Dinesh Karthik. Considering the Trent Bridge pitch, England may be tempted to drop Rashid and play both Stokes and Woakes.(The writer is a veteran commentator. Views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)