After a thumping win if T20 series and a ruthless performance in first ODI, India was expected to win the ODI series. After first ODI, India looked to be covering all bases. Top order fired, bowlers, especially Kuldeep was excellent. Series was expected to pan as we have come to expect from Indian team, a win nothing else. We will win, is now a belief, and to add to this confidence, England’s batters looked shaky and lacked confidence.
Next two ODI games India lost and it is not the loss that hurts, it is the manner in which we lost. In second ODI, chasing 300 plus score, our top order didn’t gave us the start. It was an opportunity for the middle order to take up the challenge but we failed miserably. Dhoni played one of the slowest inning of his career, he even struggled to score singles. Raina had another poor day rather a usual day on the field, Hardik was out of ideas. This performance shocked everyone and even English experts were surprised with poor batting performance and lack of intent from India. We thought it was just a bad day in office. In the gloom of loss in 2nd ODI, an expected thrilling decider was only good to look forward to.
Third ODI, India loss the toss and was asked to bat. Pitch looked good and looked to assist bowlers but there were no demon in the pitch for outrageous swing or spin. England started bowling a tight line and Indian opener looked cautious, Dhawan was striking the ball well but it is Rohit Sharma who struggled. As the overs progressed he looked clueless. His caution was now lack of ability to play the ball when it does something. This is not the first time when hit-man looked a ‘fishing man’ when the ball does something. Rohit is far too good a batsman to only be regarded as flat track bully but if he does not change the pattern quickly, he will have to live with the tag of flat track bully. Dhawan did his cameo and gave away his wicket after a start. DK and Kohli looked to build the inning but DK failed quickly. Then Dhoni and Kohli was together on the crease and it was expected from them to deliver, a fair expectation from two of India’s best ODI players. Kohli fell and Dhoni struggled again to even take singles. Hardik played his 20 run inning and was on his usual way back to pavilion. Hardik takes pride in emulating West Indian players, from their way of playing to coping them off the field. I guess, he has been successful in that and he has perfected the art of quick 20s from current West Indian T20s style players. Dhoni got out after consuming 66 balls and scoring at strike rate of 63. India never looked to put up a good competitive score. England bowlers bowled well but it is Indian batsman’s lack of skill to play spinners, especially when English spinners aren’t regarded very high on skills. Indian batting gave an impression that pitch was tough to bat on and hence there was hope that Indian bowling will be able to make inroads in English batting. We expected Kuldeep and Chahal to take wickets in middle over and strangle English batting. Bhuvi’s come back after a brief hiatus added more muscle to Indian bowling. But to sum it up, Indian bowling was toothless and ineffective. Chahal has been a disappointment in England, especially after getting a beating in the 2nd ODI in South Africa. Bhuvi was out of color and Shardul was ineffective. Biggest disappointment was Kuldeep, he was flat and looked under pressure. Kuldeep situation was best explained in the commentary box by Harsha and Swan, they said, a champion player is one who delivers when he is expected to deliver and not buckle under pressure. Kuldeep didn’t rose to the occasion when he was expected to. Indian team failed to put up a fight and CAPITULATED. Kudos to Root who batted like a champion after couple of bad matches. Root showed that class batsmanship will deliver, Root showed how a good technique can counter a difficult and relatively unknown territory of spin bowling.
This ODI series has exposed India’s middle order and our bowling. Even after months long musical chair for 4 and 5 position, team is still struggling for a permanent batsman in that position. Dhoni’s lack of form or his struggle in middle order is putting pressure on other batsmans. Hardik is ineffective when it is a pressure game. Rohit looks pale wen ball does something. In absence of Bhuvi and Bumrah, our fast bowling looks mediocre. Chahal seems ineffective in the entire series. There are too many question after the series loss. If Kohli is looking to win the world cup and want to be a ruthless side, he need to take some tough calls. Can he take a call on Dhoni or Hardik, his favorite Caribbean clone? Only time will tell. India need players who can bat and deliver few overs in the middle overs. India need to find players who can role arms like Shewag and Yuvraj did in previous team. Kohli need to make decision based on performance and not on his liking's. Players like DK and KL deserves more constant opportunity. They need backing and confidence for a long rope. If required try new young faces if the old musical chair participants are not delivering.
As a fan, I hope the team management will take
some tough call and sort out the mess soon.
India chased down England's 268 target with ease in 41 overs. This series build up was as a contest between two formidable white ball teams. Both India and England have been playing fabulous white ball cricket. Bulldozing teams after team. Before the series, England were ruthless against Australia at home and India was coming from an away one day victory against South Africans. All the hype against England and India's batting might was rightly drummed up. Indian has been now a great one day side since 2000s but for England to turn around their white ball cricket post 2015 debacle has been talk of the town. Mammoth scores were put up by fearless English batters, recent 481 against Australia is a testimony to how far England cricket has come with white ball. This is viewed as a revolution of shorts in English cricket and rightly so.
Everyone in the ex-cricketers community was singing praise of the might of batting on both side. England depth in batting was hailed as great assets and India’s top seven batters have folklore of their own. But Indian side was quietly confident and relaxed, even though the English batting onslaught was expected to hit the Indian bowling, the calmness from Kohli’s side at the expectant of a batting storm was amazing to witness. To use an Indian phrase, they looked prepared to face the English and as if quietly saying ‘aaan do, dekh lenge’. India believed they have a bramshtra in their armor in two wrist spinners, Kuldeep and Chahal, and they knew when the time comes, these two will blow away the English batting force. It is not only quality of spinners but English batters inability pick them, make Kuldeep and Chahal, lethal.
First T20 itself showed what spinners can do and how incompetent English batsman are against them. England’s best batsman Joe Root’s lack of ability to read deliver from spinner’s hand and lack of ideas against them have exposed English batting. Except for Butler, who is in form of his life, none of the batters looked remotely comfortable against India’s spin twin. English citadel of batting collapsed twice in four matches against India’s twin weapons, especially magic of Kuldeep. To add to their misery, Indian pacers have bowelled better than English pacers. To the misery of English team, Indian batters are performing as they were expected to, as mighty force. Kholi has not been troubled at all, Rohit is hitting the ball as if he is playing against a school team, Dhawan is toying with the English pacer and still due a much bigger score and Rahul has teased everyone with his class and hitting. To add to the English woes, India’s talisman Dhoni is yet to bat in ODIs. Michael Vaughan’s tweets sums the English feeling.
As a fan of Indian cricket team who started watching cricket in 90s, we had more hurt burns and setbacks than joy of victories. To see India dominant as they are, it feels us with great Joy. To rub to the English woes, we can chant, “We are taking this English summer home”.