After the euphoria of a fine victory at Lord’s, India were brought down to earth at Headingley as England won by an innings to level the series. Here are our talking points from the clash.
India’s batting fragility exposed: The signs of a fragile batting lineup were always there earlier in the series, but were masked by the tail being able to wag at both Trent Bridge and Lord’s. Bumrah and Shami added 41 between them in Nottingham and were involved in that famous partnership at Lord’s on the final day. However their past batting averages suggested the two innings were an anomaly, rather than the norm, and they failed in Leeds.
India’s pace quartet are fine bowlers, but their places are unfortunately under threat because their batsmen aren’t consistent enough, and batting depth is a must for any world class team.
This could probably necessitate the return of Shardul Thakur and/or Ravi Ashwin, but there’s a lot of pondering that Kohli has to do to get the balance of his side right.
One of the reasons for India’s success in Australia was their batting depth- both Thakur and Washington Sundar played key roles with the bat, as did Rishabh Pant.
Who should be dropped if India want a new batsman in the side?
Everyone undergoes a dip in form at some or the other point in their career, but the problem for India is that all three of their middle order players- Pujara, Kohli and Rahane, are having it at the same time. If they are to persist with their five bowler strategy, India need to strengthen their batting, and that means one of the trio has to be axed. It might ordinarily have been Cheteshwar Pujara but the Saurashtra star appears to have bought himself some time with that fine knock at Lord’s. By the process of elimination, this might therefore mean that Rahane, usually one of India’s better batsmen overseas, finds himself as the man on the chopping block.
Who gets dropped if India are to drop one of their pacers?
The fast bowling quartet has been fantastic for India, but it leaves them thin on batting depth, more so given their middle order struggles. If Kohli wants to persist with four bowlers & the all rounder, who comes in? Thakur, the batter batsman, for Ishant? Or do Jadeja and Ashwin both play? Or do India give one of Siraj, Bumrah or Shami a rest? There are no easy answers
Does Ravi Jadeja deserve a promotion up the batting order?
Jadeja is probably in the form of his life as a batsman, but coming in at No.7 with just the bowlers to follow means that Indian fans have to make do with cameos from him rather than the proper, long innings that he is very well capable of playing in these conditions. Should he play ahead of Pant? Some would even say he deserves to bat at 5, a bit like Ben Stokes, and it’s hard to argue against it given his form and the relative lack of it in the rest of the Indian batsmen.