Chennai Test: Virat Kohli & Co are batting and bowling experts
By winning the last Test by an innings and 75 runs to clinch the series 4-0, India showed that they have serious batting strength and bowlers who don’t need dust bowls to win
Virat Kohli walks away with a souvenir stump after winning the fifth and final Test against England in Chennai yesterday. Pic/AFP
England won four out of five tosses. Result: India winning the series 4-0. Lesson: Winning the toss isn't akin to winning the match, even in India. India posted their highest Test score ever when the three most successful batsmen in the side didn't fire. Lesson: This team has serious batting strength.
Indian seamers bowled faster, looked more penetrative and took more wickets than their English counterparts. Lesson: India didn't need and won't need to make dust bowls to win at home. Also, it's making us believe that India will be better prepared overseas. The Indian lower order stood tall in almost every innings. The likes of Jayant Yadav, R Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja changed the momentum of the innings and the match more than once. Lesson: India can toy with the idea of playing five bowlers more often, which in turn would give them more chances of winning overseas.
India started as the best Test side in the world and throughout the series showed why the top spot was rightfully theirs. England have been India's bogey team, for they came to India on the back of winning three bilateral series, which included one in India. Therefore, India had a score to settle and they did it in style. There were two key protagonists in shaping India's fate — Kohli and Ashwin but since there's nothing left to be said about these two, let's try to focus on the gains that got lesser attention.
Rise of Rahul, Nair
KL Rahul and Karun Nair made their first-class debuts a few years after the birth of Indian Premier League (IPL) and it's only fair to assume that their formative years were spent hoping to be a part of the IPL. The biggest criticism of the T20 format is that it doesn't encourage the younger generation to work on the skills suited for the longer format. But these two batsmen have proved that, perhaps, the assumption is slightly misplaced. The modern-day batsmen have found ways to stay relevant in all three formats.
Also, it must be worth noticing that their success highlights the success of the Indian domestic structure. Both Nair and Rahul feature in the top five run-scorers in the last three seasons on first-class cricket in India. It's quite heartening to see that they've amassed thousands of runs in the longer-format without compromising their attacking instinct.
Jadeja's batting, a bonus
Jadeja has been around for a while but somehow kept losing his spot in the side from time to time. His bowling is ideally suited for Indian pitches, for he keeps it extremely tight and that in turn has helped Ashwin to pick many wickets. But his batting blew hot and cold too often and that's one area he's improved drastically in this home season thus far.
He got a couple of half centuries against New Zealand and grew more in stature against England by scoring the tough runs in Mohali and Mumbai. In addition to Jadeja, India unearthed another talent in Jayant, who will be quite handy in the home series against Australia early next year. Since the Australian batting line-up has a lot of left-handers, India can play with two off-spinners and Jayant's batting, once again, allows them to field five bowlers.
Even though they weren't dust bowls, pitches were ideal for spinners and therefore it's imperative to acknowledge the contribution of the two Indian seamers — Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. Both have not just allowed India to break partnerships in this series but their presence allowed India to hope for a better showing next time they tour overseas. With this emphatic series victory, India has widened the gap between them and the remaining Test teams, and with five more Tests at home before the long home-season ends, their stay at the top is assured for a long time.
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