A big thud after flying high Down Under

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FIRST BLOOD: England put up a clinical show in the first Test against India in Chennai.

Hyderabad: After flying high in Australia, India came crashing down in the first Test against England in Chennai on Tuesday. England made a big statement with a more clinical show that that caught the Indians napping. Naturally, all eyes were on Virat Kohli’s men when the series began against the disciplined Joe Root’s team. After the defeat, Kohli did promise that they would bounce back strongly in the second Test after looking into the mistakes that they made in the first Test. To own admission, the body language and lack of intensity was missing in the Indian team. It was evident the moment fleet-footed Root won the crucial toss and dominated the show with a sublime double century. He took the match away from India. By putting a big 578 total, England strangled India with impeccable bowling performance.

For chief coach Ravi Shastri it was a setback of sorts. After a highly commendable show when the injury-ravaged team had turned tables with a 2-1 series win against Australia in Australia, Shastri was aware that this determined English side was on a mission. Given the fact that England were coming to India after a highly successful Sri Lanka tour, it was on the cards, the hosts would need to be methodical in their approach. But it was England that drew the first blood in the four Test series and with that massive 227-run even climbed to the top of the table of the World Test Championship. And one more win would put them into final and will play the already qualified New Zealand in the final at Lord’s. They executed their plans to perfection while India fumbled with their combination, particularly the omission of Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.

Although Kohli denied that England were better prepared than India because they had adjusted to the sub-continent pitches by playing two-Test series in Lanka, it was home team that looked out of place. Former Hyderabad wily swing bowler P Jyothi Prasad was surprised with the wicket at Chennai. “It never looked like a Test wicket. There was lot of wear and tear. On this wicket, I simply loved the bowling of Anderson with his reverse swing. He is the King of swing bowling,’’ he said. Did India bungle in preparing a turning track? In hindsight it could be true as one looks to the attack England had the upper hand against as they had the likes of Anderson, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes and two spinners in Don Bess and Jack Leach. India, on the other hand, had wrong selection in bringing in Shabhaz Nadeem at the last minute after injury to Axar Patel ruled him out in place of Kuldeep Yadav. It was left to Jasprit Bumrah and Ravi Ashwin to take on the strong England team. Ashwin was commendable but it was in the first innings when the Indian attack fumbled as they failed to put pressure on the English batsmen. Root deployed his sweep shots effectively with Indians being clueless.
“Under the circumstances, India would be better prepared if they prepare normal sporting wickets instead of turning tracks. We should have a good seam attack and with two spinners, India can take on the challenge of England. I would play three seamers instead of two. Of late, Indian batsmen have disappointed on turning tracks and spinners because of lack of practice. Even in nets, there is throw-down stuff of fast bowling. The classic example is how Sachin Tendulkar prepared for the series against Australia in 2001 series. Much before the start of the first Test, Sachin practiced against L Sivaramakrishnan,’’ said Raju.

Former Hyderabad opener Vijay Mohan Raj said bat speed on different tracks is crucial. “After playing a long series in Australia on hard surfaces and suddenly playing on slow wickets of India needs a lot of technical adjustments. In this case, England’s tour of Lanka prior to this series helped them in a big way. India have learnt their lessons and there will be change of tactics in the second Test,’’ he said.

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