India’s strategy against England, quite rightly so, was based solely on their strength — spin bowling. The English batsmen have buried their initial concerns by posting two 400+ run totals.
The concern for India is that their main spinner, R Ashwin seems to have been collared and appropriately scrutinised by the English think tank. A lot will depend as to how he will emerge from this debacle in the next Test match at Kolkata, as India’s plan still revolves around the spin theory.
Pragyan Ojha on the other hand is still raw in the art of variations. One does not see him utilising the crease or giving the ball air with subtle releases or having more than one arm ball.
One got the impression that he believes in the wicket assisting him rather than a strategy to get the batsman out through his skills.
The England side seemed to have regained their lost confidence and look mentally way ahead of the Indian side.
Kevin Pietersen’s form for them is a huge booster and his appreciation of his team members, the dressing room camaraderie and the support staff in his post-match interview must have added to the team’s comfort.
He valued this innings as one of his best and mentioned that his confidence in his defence was the success of his batting.
Most of the Indian batsmen on the other hand, lacked confidence in their defence. They now need to put their poor performances behind and look at their failure, as a bad day in the office. The dressing room atmosphere will need to be boosted. This can be done only by Sachin Tendulkar. His failure is always demoralising for the country and the team.
This is the price that one pays for a legend amidst them. His positive body language and mentoring is extremely essential for India’s success.
India’s close-in fielding will also need to be substantially improved. The fielders at short leg look petrified. They seem to be turning their backs at every given opportunity.
This gives the batsmen even more confidence, as they realise that their placement is just a perfunctory function rather than create fear and uncertainty.
England deserve every bit of praise for the way they have fought back. India will not be sitting on their haunches and one expects them to come with all guns blazing.
After all, they have been wounded, mentally, physically and tactically.
>> Former India player Yajurvindra Singh figured in the 1976-77 and 1979 Test series against England