Virat Kohli and Co hit a six with batsmen in Australia

Updated: Jan 10, 2019, 16:16 IST | Gaurav Joshi

India's strategy of playing six batsmen was a key factor in scripting history

Virat Kohli and Co hit a six with batsmen in Australia
India skipper Virat Kohli and his teammates during a lap of honour at the Sydney Cricket Ground after the fourth Test ended in a draw. Pic/AFP

During the post-series press conference here on Monday, Virat Kohli took a deep breath and uttered, "I feel that we have batted really well." In the historic series win Down Under, it has been the fast bowlers that have received all the praise and rightly so. But as Kohli rightfully stated, the batting, led by Cheteshwar Pujara deflated one of the best bowling attacks in their own backyard.

One must remember that the team management decided to send assistant coach Sanjay Bangar to Sydney before the second T20I v Australia in Melbourne, to work alongside the Test specialists. One of the keys to taming the Australian attack was to unravel Nathan Lyon. The Indian batsmen practised for substantial periods against balls that were hurled into bowler's footmarks outside the off stump. The theory was to upset Lyon's length by advancing at him.

Tackling Lyon
Rarely did the Indian batsmen sweep him, knowing well that the over-spin he generates can lead to top edges. All the hard work paid dividends as Lyon averaged 56.00 against the top six Indian batsmen.

The other important decision the coaching staff took was to play six frontline batsmen throughout the series. In South Africa and England, the batting order looked depleted and the obsession of playing a seam-bowling all-rounder at No. 6 had upset the team's balance.

As head coach Ravi Shastri stated after the series, "We learned a lot in South Africa and we learned a lot in England. We made mistakes which we didn't make in this series. We learned from those mistakes and fired it home properly."

In all away Tests during the last 12 months, whenever India played six batsmen and had a reliable No. 8, the average innings score was 338. On the contrary, with five frontline batsmen and a couple of all-rounders, the average score was only 216. One member that certainly benefited from having a deep batting line-up was Rishabh Pant.

Both his Test centuries came when he had the comfort of Ravindra Jadeja batting at No. 8. After his unbeaten 159 in Sydney, Pant explained the benefits of having a strong lower-order.

Pant's crucial knock
He said: "I was batting with a batsman most of the time. I have to bat differently with the tail and look to score all the time." As Kohli stated, "If you don't put runs on the board, you can't do anything." India learned it the hard way, but eventually, they made the right decisions.

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