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IND vs ENG Test Series: Indian Batsmen Fine, Bowlers Need To Step Up

By on July 6, 2014

Now that the two warm-ups that the Indian team played ahead of the first Test against England are done and dusted, it can relax and jot down the lessons it learnt from those games.

It’s safe to presume that the players must have got the hang of English cold by now, the most important aspect for any touring side from the sub-continent. Going by their performance in the warm-ups, India face a few challenges ahead of the opener.

India vs England Test SeriesWhen India last toured England in 2011, they played one practice game ahead of the four-Test series. Much buzz was created around that because it was against a strong Somerset side and also because England captain Andrew Strauss turned for his county side in that game.

In the past two weeks, India have played Leicestershire and Derbyshire – the former languishing at the bottom and the latter second to last in the championship table. The two teams opted to give their second-best team a chance to test their mettle against a top international side.

The Indian team further diluted the intensity when they provided a chance to their entire squad of 18 players to get some sort of match-practice. As a result the, the two fixtures lost their first-class status. Nevertheless, the Indians managed to scrap a result out of the second warm-up – a debatable morale-boosting victory.

At Grace Road, against Leicestershire, the Indian batsmen put forward a solid performance in the first innings on Day 1 with each of their top-order batsmen, barring Murali Vijay, giving the message that they are better equipped and prepared this time around.

The headline of the first day’s play was grabbed by Shikhar Dhawan who was hit on his elbow by medium-pacer Atif Sheikh, forcing him to retire hurt. What concerned though was the performance of the Indian bowlers. After the second day’s play was washed out due to rain, on the final day, two of Leicestershire batsman Angus Robson and Greg Smith scored attacking centuries against a listless Indian attack that leaked 349 runs in 62 overs. The most experienced of the lot, Ishant Sharma, picked two wickets but at the cost of 64 runs in nine overs.

The story continued against Derbyshire as Wesley Durston, a middle-order batsman, smashed 95 runs off 90 deliveries that included 14 boundaries and two sixes. Again the leader of the pack, Ishant, was out of sorts bowling as many as nine no balls in 12 wicketless overs. Again, the Indian batsmen, barring their openers, had a fruitful outing. However, on the third and final day, there was some improvement in the bowling department as the Derbyshire batsmen were kept in check in the first session of the day’s play when they lost two early wickets and managed 62 for 2. More positive news came in the form of Mohammad Shami, who didn’t bowl in the first innings due to a calf-strain, but was back in the second dig returning figures of 11-2-39-1. India did manage to win the game after chasing down 142 runs at the loss of five wickets.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who didn’t bat on the final day, scored an unbeaten 81 in the first innings besides scoring 51 not out against Leicestershire. Pujara’s form should give India captain MS Dhoni plenty of confidence. Vijay, who failed to capitalise the batting friendly conditions on previous occasions, finally came good in the chase at Derby scoring a solid 41 before retiring out. Virat Kohli, India’s most talked-about batsman, got starts on both the occasions he batted. Gautam Gambhir, team’s reserved opener, scored a fifty in the first game and an unbeaten 21 in the next. To sum up, all their batsmen got enough time to get acclimatised to the conditions and even though against lowly opponents, managed to score some runs too.

India’s lone specialist spinner on tour, R Ashwin, was under bowled. Perhaps, it’s an indication that his services weren’t at the top of the requirements for the visiting team. However, what would be interesting is the fact that both the allrounders that Indian team have at their disposal, have performed. Stuart Binny, against Derbyshire took two wickets – one in each innings – besides scoring an unbeaten 81 in the first. Ravindra Jadeja, who went for 57 in his 11 overs against Leicestershire, took 2 for 27 in the first innings against Derbyshire in same number of overs. He also scored 45 in the first innings, although not before being dropped early in his knock. Even though, chances of Binny making it to the playing XI at Trent Bridge are slim, but his seam-bowling suited to the English conditions might just work in his favour later in the series.

However, one should refrain from according much credence to the performances dished out in the two warm-up games for obvious reasons. What Indian team should focus on is not repeating the mistakes it committed three years back. The batsman seem to have adopted to the conditions well. The fight will be between three individuals to make it to the field – Ashwin, Jadeja and Binny. At the same time, the bowlers need to step up and especially Ishant who, in the absence of Zaheer Khan, will have to not only focus on improving his performance but also inspire other bowlers in the pack.

Source: gocricket

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