There was a time when Indian fans would fear when their team traveled abroad. Before the series began, there would be an air of pessimism amongst the fans, citing the same old problems as the reason– difficulty in batting in alien conditions, fast bowlers unable to win games for the team and their over-reliance on spinners. Cut to 2018, this is a very modern and different, yet exciting Indian team we are all witnessing. The series against England in England was considered India’s biggest assignment for some time now. The English undoubtedly came hard at the Indians, winning the first 2 Tests, yet India managed to pull off a convincing win in the 3rd Test which has left the series in balance, at 2-1. So, what are the key points to take away from the series until now? Here’s 22 yards, decoding the series for you!
I Virat Kohli Banishes the Demons of 2014!
134 runs in 10 innings with an average of 13.4– one would look at these stats and laugh it off if you told them that these were Virat Kohli’s numbers when India last toured England in 2014. Such was the phase that Kohli was going through, that he had probably the worst series of his career, with majority of his dismissals coming at the hands of Anderson, because of him nicking at balls outside the off-stump, which exposed the only weakness he had. So much so, that people mocked him to be ‘Anderson’s bunny’. Fast forward to 2018, the focus was still on Kohli as India were touring England again. And with Kohli being Kohli, he silenced his critics in some style, smashing 149 runs in the 1st innings of the 1st Test, and further accumulating 291 runs in just 3 test matches. Yes, he has still been troubled a little outside the off-stump, but the grit and determination he has shown to overcome the tough phases of the game and score mammoth runs has been commendable. With 2 Test matches yet to be played, Kohli has tripled his tally of 2014 and is well on his way to achieving a Legend’s status.
II Anderson Gets Better with Age!
There is a saying that goes– wine gets better with age. Men are like wine- there might be some that turn to vinegar, but the best only get better with age. Jimmy Anderson is like the best of the wine you can find around! Such has been the consistency and control he has shown in this series, that he is still regarded as England’s best Test bowler at the age of 36, an age where most cricketers consider retirement. A lot was spoken about his battle with Virat Kohli. While he hasn’t yet taken his wicket in this series, he has peppered the outside off-stump line with remarkable accuracy, managing to draw the batsmen to play and often getting the edge as well, but with little help from his slip fielders. With just 7 wickets required to surpass Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 Test wickets, the most by a fast bowler ever, Jimmy Anderson has already established himself as one of the great’s of the game.
III Indian Bowlers Come to the Party!
Not often do we see Indian bowlers have a better average speed than the English. Yes, you read that right! The Indian seamers have not only clocked a higher speed, but have also managed to do so with some terrific accuracy and consistency. With the bowlers always looking to take wickets rather than bowling defensive, this is a fresh sight for the Indian fans, who have mostly seen their bowlers struggle to pick up 20 wickets in a Test match overseas. In the 3 Test matches that have been played, India have picked up 20 wickets in 2 test matches. A wise man once said– The batsmen may take all the credits, but it is the bowlers who win you Test matches, not the batsmen. If the Indian bowlers continue in the manner they have been bowling, they definitely could help India overturn the 2-1 deficit.
IV England’s Opening Woes Continue!
There has been a dearth of quality openers for England, since the retirement of Strauss and Trescothick. Cook has stepped up, but the England selectors have been on the lookout for an opener who can not only support Cook ably, but also take the baton from him and establish himself as a Test opener. Jennings was trusted with that role for the ongoing series, but he too, has failed up until now. Both Cook and Jennings being left handers have given the Indians an advantage, as the Indian quicks are known to be feeding off handers! The highest opening wicket partnership England have recorded in this series has been 54, which goes on to show how much the team relies on the middle order. Some serious decisions need to be taken by the selectors if England are to stand a chance to clinch the series!
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