England series: A real test for India's batting group

Kohli happens to be the only Indian batsman to have an average in 30s in England; Pujara and Rahane's average is in the late 20s, which shows how big a struggle it has been for them.

Published: 03rd August 2021 11:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd August 2021 11:07 PM   |  A+A-

England captain Joe Root and India captain Virat Kohli with the trophies prior to the first Test Match at Trent Bridge cricket ground. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The men's and women's hockey players adorn the front pages of newspapers. Mirabai Chanu and Lovlina Borgohain are on the backpages. PV Sindhu is the talk of the country. That in itself must be a strange feeling for the cricketers before a marquee Test series like the Pataudi Trophy. India can address that 'strange feeling' as early as Thursday, Day 1 of the first Test that gets underway at Trent Bridge. As always, all eyes are on the pitch. It has made both teams delay finalising their XI till the toss.

For all you know, this low-key build-up could be a blessing in disguise for Team India. They would rather prefer to fly under the radar than being talked up as favourites, especially when beating England in England has sort of becoming an obsession. They won't admit it, with captain Virat Kohli revealing on Tuesday that this series is as important as ones they play elsewhere. But many moons later and after plenty of drinks, the 4-1 scoreline in 2018 still hurts many in the team. In that sense, it is truly the final frontier for India.

This time, they are in with more than a definite chance of winning the series in a country where they have won only two of their last 13 Tests. It might sound daunting and a bridge too far to cross, but given the resources they have, there is only one favourite to win the series and it happens to be the visitors. Even more so after England's talisman Ben Stokes walking away from the game for his mental wellbeing. He will not be available at least for the first two Tests.

In the two press conferences India have had in the lead up to the Test, they haven't fielded any question that has gone on to address them as favourites. There is a reason to it. Just like how England's inexperienced batting order is being seen as their weakest link, India with Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, have not been assuring enough in these conditions. In fact, none in the current batting group (minimum of 7 Tests) average in the 40s in England. While it is true that they have played on conditions that have been loaded in favour of seamers in each of their last two tours, Kohli happens to be the only batsman to have an average in 30s in England. Pujara and Rahane's average is in the late 20s, which shows how big a struggle it has been for them.

For a batting unit that has had a batting collapse inside a session in each of their overseas tours, they have encountered it far too frequently in England and it has been their biggest undoing. Adding to their misery has been England's seamers, who have even tested the very best on home conditions, under cloud cover or not. And speaking to reporters, Kohli admitted India have work to do on that front.

"It is all about understanding when things are not going your way, how to control the damage and that is what Test cricket is all about and you have to go through the situations and eventually capitalise when things turn your way. Because you are not gonna have all the sessions going your way. That is one area we need to improve. In Tests we have done that well, we have ended up winning," Kohli said.

Given how fragile England's own batting line-up is, India expect the conditions to be not severely loaded in favour of the seamers as it could come back to bite them. If that holds true, then the onus will be on Indian batsmen to capitalise on it and bring home the trophy that has eluded them since 2007.


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