England v India, 5th Investec Test, The Oval

India's batting stars fail toughest test

What counts against Kohli and Pujara is that they haven't been able to find a way to master trying conditions over an extended series

Sambit Bal at The Oval

August 16, 2014

Comments: 72 | Text size: A | A
We will keep battling away - Ashwin

At the lunch table on the first day at The Oval, with India's top order in tatters again, a former Indian player, now a commentator, wondered if he had been too hasty in hailing the current crop as worthy successors to India's finest-ever collection of Test batsmen.

But his sunny outlook hadn't been unfounded. Strong performances at home, against Australia, England and West Indies, had been backed up by runs in South Africa and New Zealand. Even when they weren't scoring big runs, the openers has shown pluck and fight. Shikhar Dhawan, who began his Test career with a surreally sensational 187 off 174 balls, battled for 87 balls for 19 runs in Durban and reeled off 115 and 98 in successive Tests in New Zealand. M Vijay forsook flair for solidity and sold his wicket dear. And Ajinkya Rahane, finally rewarded for his first-class toils, had made the transition effortlessly to Test cricket. But, unquestionably, no other batsmen fired the imagination as did Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

Both had been around before, but it was the departure of India's greatest middle-order pair that granted them their date with destiny. And brightly they shone. In India's first Test assignment without Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, the inheritors provided a glimpse into the future with two innings that could well have belonged to the masters. However odious, comparisons are inevitable, and those two hundreds in Johannesburg carried the shades of Tendulkar and Dravid. Kolhi had the dazzle and strokes, and Pujara the temperament and assurance.

A Chris Woakes short ball forced Virat Kohli off balance, England v India, 3rd Investec Test, Ageas Bowl, 3rd day, July 29, 2014
Much was expected from Virat Kohli, but he hasn't hit the heights in this series © Getty Images

India failed to win that Test and went on to lose the next match and the series, but after the 8-0 in their previous overseas engagements, the beginning of a fresh era had got off to a far more promising start than anticipated. Another series was lost in New Zealand, with India blowing chances to win in both the Tests, but allowances were still made for a team trying to find its feet.

And so when honours were split at Trent Bridge and victory was achieved at Lord's with starring roles from Vijay and Rahane, there was delight in India. Pujara had played small but vital hands in both Tests, and Kohli's failures, instead of being alarming, was oddly reassuring. Surely, both of them were too good to keep on failing, and what better for a team already ahead in the series than big performances from their batting stars at the business end of a long series.

From that heady afternoon at Lord's, the India story has unravelled so abysmally that the memories of the dark summer of 2011 have now revisited Indian fans. Vijay has been worn down, Rahane, who has looked technically the most accomplished batsman of the tour, has had a sequence of wretched dismissals, and Gautam Gambhir, who took Dhawan's place in the fourth Test, has shown no evidence that he retains the ability meet the new ball with the bat facing the bowler. It can be argued that he hasn't spent enough time at the crease to qualify as an out-of-form batsman, but his dismissals - unconvincing pokes leading to catches behind the wicket - painted the eerily familiar pattern that led to him being dropped in the first place.

But not even the most optimistic England supporters would have anticipated this run of scores from India's rising middle-order stars. Since the half-century in Nottingham, Pujara's scores have read: 28, 43, 24, 2, 0, 17 and 4. Kohli has matched him step for step with a sequence of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7 and 6. Between them, they have produced only three more runs than Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. And that's only because Shami hasn't played the last two Tests.

Let's look for the possible explanations first. India have batted first on three of the toughest days in the series, at Lord's, Old Trafford and The Oval. They won at Lord's because they won the first day, in as much as England lost it, on the greenest pitch seen not only in this series but in the last two decades.

The highest opening partnership for India has been 49, on a flat fourth-day pitch at Trent Bridge. The second-highest stand is 40, in the second innings at Lord's when the pitch had eased out. The latest Pujara has come in to bat has been in the 15th over. On five occasions, he has entered the battle within the first ten overs, and three times within the first five. Before the series started James Anderson had hoped that it wouldn't take them 50 overs to bring Kohli to the crease. That fear hasn't come to pass even once in this series. Only twice in the series has Kohli come to bat after the 40th.

Put another way, both Pujara and Kohli have often had to bat in unfamiliar positions, Pujara a virtual opener, and Kohli a virtual No. 3. And they have come up against high quality swing-and-seam in conditions they had never encountered before in Tests. And like good form, poor form is self-perpetuating.

But even accounting for all these factors, the continued poor run of these two batsmen has baffled experts, because mistakes have been repeated. Kohli has struggled to locate his off stump, a fatal failing when the ball is nipping about, and the ball has found Pujara's stumps with disconcerting regularity. Both patterns point to technical flaws - low hands in Pujara's case, a tendency to push at balls in Kohli's, and angled bats for both.

Few batsmen in the history of the game have possessed techniques versatile enough for all conditions, but all good batsmen have found a method to score runs in most conditions. What counts against both Pujara and Kohli is that they haven't been able to find a way out -- for example they needed to look no further than M S Dhoni who worked around a perennial weakness against full balls outside the off-stump to become, against odds, India's second-most prolific run-getter in England -- and, as the series has progressed, a ring of inevitability has grown around their dismissals and it has dragged India down.

A final innings remains for their redemption, but the odds are heavy. Cricket never ceases to surprise, but it hard to see an Indian escape. However, even though this series has now descended, from an Indian perspective, to the despairing depths of 2011, there is one major difference. Unlike India's fading maestros, Pujara and Kohli are the men of India's future. As characters they couldn't have been most contrasting, but beyond Kohli's fire and Pujara's ice, there's a common thread of passion and pride.

The last 40-odd days have been the hardest in their international careers. Rahul Dravid didn't score a run in Australia in 1999, but returned to be a match-winner in 2003-04. The moving ball poses the toughest challenge in international cricket, but what better way to learn playing it than practising against it.

Which county wouldn't want a couple of fine Indian batsmen?

Sambit Bal is editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo. @sambitbal

RSS Feeds: Sambit Bal

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by A.Ak on (August 22, 2014, 14:12 GMT)

Yes, stars failed. Players played well. Kholi and Pujara - has the shades of Sachin and Dravid. Thats it nothing more (no one will ever be). We made them starts before even prove themselves in this level..

Posted by jay57870 on (August 20, 2014, 0:27 GMT)

Well, Sambit, pinch yourself! It's actually happened - superfast - even before Shastri, the new Director of Cricket (ODIs in Eng), could utter the word "start"! Pujara has been given the green light - superfast - by BCCI to play county cricket! Two superfast decisions!! Wow!! With Shastri in charge, the doors have now been kicked open for a few chosen stars - batsmen & bowlers - to follow suit. Who knows, maybe one of them could even play alongside Jimmy Anderson? After all, the top two Test teams - SA & Oz - have their stars playing in IPL. In fact, Brett Lee credits Mitchell Johnson's resurgence to his IPL stint. Even Warner has fought his way back into Tests. Maybe BCCI is finally listening and acting? Which county wouldn't want India's brightest stars, Sambit?

Posted by jay57870 on (August 19, 2014, 12:52 GMT)

Sambit - Yes, the most practical solution lies in the last sentence: County Cricket! To prepare India's "batting stars" for Test cricket, what better way than to experience real English cricket in the trenches of a Lancashire or Sussex? India's greats have done it - Sourav (Lancs), Rahul (Kent), Sachin (Yorkshire), Viru (Leicester). Even the bowlers - Zaheer (Worcester), Kumble (Surrey), Srinath (Glouster). Go even further back - Gavaskar, Engineer, Bedi, Kapil & Shastri. Yes, Shastri (Glamorgan): the new Director of Cricket (ODIs in Eng)! He, with his fellow commentators - Wasim, Sourav, & even Nasser Hussain - have been strongly advocating this very point. A season or two will "season" them - hone their skills vs the "moving ball" and swing on "seaming wickets". Importantly, they'll learn to fend for themselves (housework, finances), assume personal responsibility. It's a "finishing" school. But first Shastri (BCCI) has to "start" it: Which county wouldn't want Kohli or Pujara?

Posted by highveldhillbilly on (August 18, 2014, 9:26 GMT)

I think the SA tour may have done more damage than good for Kohli and Pujara and India's batting in general. Both pitches were really flat, especially Joburg but the Durban pitch was also had very little in it for the bowlers. I think their relatively successful 2 test encounter masked the issues they were about to encounter in England. The pitches in NZ weren't exactly green tops either...

Posted by himsez on (August 17, 2014, 18:13 GMT)

Please dont club Kohli and Pujarar. Kohli is not new. Pujara did play atleast 4 good inings. Kohli was a disaster. Indian team was a disaster.

Posted by glen1 on (August 17, 2014, 17:40 GMT)

Sounds a bit cynical to call for a two test series for India; but you have to play to your strengths. Watching Olympics running, nobody bats an eyelid when different origin people excel at the 100m, 1500m, and marathon runs. Why would it be any different in cricket? West Indies has shown it, and India will have to head that way; optimize the returns for your public. Test cricket is a luxury that can wreck havoc on productivity, and only countries with good overall bank accounts (not just in cricket) can afford it.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 17:32 GMT)

The BCCI will not send any of its Test stars to County cricket - they're needed to keep interest in the IPL! When they set out to emulate the English Premier League in football, they (perhaps unwittingly) ended up emulating the English national football team too - the supposed best league in the world certainly doesn't guarantee the best national side, and as some of us in England have come to think, club or franchise can become an obstacle to national success.

Posted by Azfar on (August 17, 2014, 17:27 GMT)

Having followed Indian Cricket closely since 1982.............the last 3 Tests in this series have been the most gutless display ever put up by an Indian Team over a period of time.......just imagine English tail gets 101 runs in 11 overs in the morning and on the same pitch the whole Indian team rolls over for 94 in 29 overs in the afternoon !! MARK MY WORDS ---- 'NOTHING WILL CHANGE AFTER THIS, EVEN DUNCAN FLETCHER WILL STAY'...........BCCI will tell us 'WE ARE BIG 3, WE CONTROL WORLD CRICKET'........... For God's sake the whole world is laughing at us .......today the English commentators were comparing India with Bangladesh & Zimbabwe......

Posted by FlatTrakBully on (August 17, 2014, 17:27 GMT)

Team should move on. 3-1 is similar to 4-0 loss, but its better than England's record of 5-0 loss,. (Practicing county without IPL, BBL)

Posted by glen1 on (August 17, 2014, 17:12 GMT)

After the dust settles down; BCCI & Dhoni need to make a quick assessment. The outcome should be that India plays only two test series from now on, concentrates on one-day cricket and IPL, and crowds should be entertained. All this talk of IPL as the cause of this demise is rubbish; the loss to GNP playing the long format game is tremendous. Further, the players used to short formats should not be put through this five test nonsense. Test cricket is a luxury that countries like India cannot afford.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 16:55 GMT)

Pujara failed in NZ and failed miserably in England.There is obvious technical issue there , he is playing the ball too low. It worked in South Africa the pitches were slowest , but this performance was on the walls, if people had paid attention to what happened in NZ where even though bounce wasnt there, he following the swing with his bat, and when the English bowlers sorted out the areas and length and united behind their captain, it was all over. Well on other hand Kohli needs a year off to sort out his head, either he believed he was Viv Richards and is failing to live up to his own demi Image, or there are certain issues in the dressing room and off field that large over his head. And practising aginst throw downs hasnt helped anyone.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 16:43 GMT)

India should be kicked out of test cricket by icc.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 16:32 GMT)


He has played a total of 5 test matches during the last WI and Eng tour of 2011 with three different opening partners. But he was dropped after playing three test against England to make way for Sehwag returning from injury.

Mukund, who's been part of India's Under-19 team, won a Border-Gavaskar Scholarship in 2009 and spent five weeks at the Center of Excellence in Brisbane batting against the Kookaburra ball.

In 2010, he had a good tour of England with India A, top scored for India in the Emerging Players tournament in Australia He could be our best bet for the Australia Test series.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 15:18 GMT)

Indian second innings display shows huge psychological traumatic flow and post anxiety blow which they need huge break ahead of odi series..They need to undergo psychological mentoring to gain back their confidence where team spirit and skills are curbed by temperament ..nothing much to say abt..

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 15:08 GMT)

With no IPL7 2014 participation and Tamil Nadu's early ouster from Ranji season 2013-14 at the knock-out stage,an experienced opener of the previous Eng tour 2011, Abhinav Mukund went unnoticed.

Abhinav Mukund could have been groomed as a left handed Dravid for Future Indian test team. if only the Indian think tank had a vision of what a test batsman must play like. He was a third opener's choice when bereft with injuries to Sehwag and Gambhir. He has been opening with M.Vijay since he started playing at the domestic level. In the tour game against Northants in the last England tour of 2011, he scored a century 113 of 421 balls in the total of 352 with the playing eleven comprising of Gambhir, Sehwag, Laxman, Raina and Dhoni. He has played a total of 5 test matches during the last WI and Eng tour of 2011 with three different opening partners. contd..,

Posted by Nampally on (August 17, 2014, 14:42 GMT)

When the top stars in batting fail, it is best to send them lower in the batting order to build their confidence & put less pressure on them. For example, Dhoni could have brought in N.Ojha the guy in form & with lot of confidence riding on the success of the Aussie tour success! Doing Nothing is not an option. Dhoni is an unimaginative captain with wild ideas of his own. He does not plan his strategy, tactics & field setting which every other captain in the world does. He has no plan to counter the opposition bats or bowlers with the best approach. There are 18 in the squad & he never utilizes more than 14 guys in the series. He has no clue which bowler suits best & picks what his Gut feelings suggest. His use of short pitch bowling is equally irrational. It succeeded on a 2 paced Lords Pitch by chance. He has the option to bowl tight & wait for batsmen to make mistakes as England always did & Won.The Captaincy is #1 Indian problem & the Indian Selectors need to groom someone ASAP.

Posted by choo_for_twenty_choo on (August 17, 2014, 14:09 GMT)

Which county wouldn't want a couple of fine Indian batsmen? All of them - but only if they are playing in India.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (August 17, 2014, 12:50 GMT)

Hope BCCI swallows its pride and agrees to let Indian players to play County cricket. It will be a win-win decision for both ECB and Indian Cricketers.

Posted by Bouncypitches on (August 17, 2014, 12:28 GMT)

@Azfar you are absolutely right. No one takes any responsibility and there is no commitment to Test cricket. BCCI should send all the young players to Australia, SA and England to learn batting, bowling and fielding. Hopefully they will get places in 2nd XI teams in these countries! However, this is a dream!

Posted by Sexysteven on (August 17, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

If India want credibility in cricket they have to get better overseas it's all good to be good at home on pitches that suites your techniques but if they want respect there star players have to score runs in tougher conditions that tests your technique i can only see embarrassing outcomes for them in Aussie on there pitches well the selectors got to get the team selection right for starters and whoever is the captain has to get his tactics right which hasn't happened on this tour they have made England look better then they actually are

Posted by Bouncypitches on (August 17, 2014, 12:10 GMT)

Something major has to change. India cannot keep going abroad and keep embarrassing the fans and the country. After all the fielding training these criceters get at the IPL the fielding has been atrocious this time around. Apart from the first 2 tests, the bowling and batting have also both failed. Should India stop trying to play cricket and try some other sport?

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 11:54 GMT)

utter nonsense from gambhir..does he have a common sense while batting..I think that would be his last test ..better to retire after this series..damn it. .how can we expect fight with these kind of nonsense run outs..!!

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 11:26 GMT)

It's lack of committment rather than lack of talent that caused the downfall of India. Under Indian conditions they don't have to work that hard...but playing in foreign conditions definitely require extra preparation. For example..Sangakkara came and played for English counties before the start of the series, and refused playing in IPL for that season. Can't imagine an Indian player doing that..and the results speak for themselves. As Andrew Symonds said once he was asked about Indian players at IPL..he was brutally honest to mention that they were lazy at training. I think the amount of easy cricket they are playing put them in hard situations at foreign venues.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (August 17, 2014, 10:52 GMT)

@rajat tiwari- Toughest test yet still awaits us. It will be v likes of Mitch and co. down under later this year. Its going to be much tougher than anything yet.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 10:21 GMT)

dhawan' s attacking, gambhir attacking third man drive, patience knock at times, vijay's defence , judging outside offstump balls and hitting loose balls, pujara defence, and scoring quick runs , kohli straight bat hit , initial defence, carrying momentum for a big innings, rahane elegance and constructing innings, Dhoni patience and attacking periodically, ashwin clean strokes and ticking runs quickly, bhuvi simple shots and run getting , these are the actual strengths of Indian batting which they have to realise and come good in the coming innings' s.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (August 17, 2014, 10:09 GMT)

@DRS - Well,its been barely 2 years since this same Eng team thrashed home track bullies 2-1 @ home in Ind.No longer tigers @ home too,are they?Wait ,biggest test still awaits.4 tests in toughest place to play ckt,Aus later.

Posted by aman15 on (August 17, 2014, 10:03 GMT)

@IndianEagle FYI Australia have not lost to SA in SA since their readmission in 1991. And atleast australia won in India as you mentioned in 2003-04 under gilchrists leadership, India have yet to win a test series in australia. So clearly all are not home track bullies.BTW australia also whitewashed srilanka in srilanka (3-0) in 2004 and that srilankan team was better than current srilankan team still comprising of players such as jayasuriya, vaas, muralitharan in addition to sangakkara and jayawardene.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 9:47 GMT)

India's performance would been much better if they had accepted DRS !. I hope BCCI will see some sense and accept DRS as part and parcel of cricket.

Posted by rajattiwaari on (August 17, 2014, 9:44 GMT)

Atul Deo- Pujara might have some technical issues, I don't dispute that. But his stance is not one of them. Pujara's stance, IMHO,is perfect. He stands so still which is so very important.

Posted by rajattiwaari on (August 17, 2014, 9:33 GMT)

First of all, this wasn't the toughest test. Toughest test for these young batsmen was against a much much better bowling unit of SA. Pujara,Kohli both scored tons there(Vijay and Rahane scored 97). Second of all, I see a lot of people saying kohli ,pujara are home/flat track bullies. No,they are not. Kohli has scored a test 100 on every foreign tour(except WI).Ours is a good batting line up with plenty of potential but they just have not been able to deliver.whether there is a technical issue, only an expert can tell that. I always say what happens in media after a defeat or victory is over analysis. there's no need for that. I will give you a simple reason-ENGLAND have outplayed INDIA.There,I just said it.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 9:23 GMT)

I fail to understand what Duncan Fletcher and the support staff are doing. In a 5 Test Series there is enough time to work on the flaws which are letting down Pujara, Kohli, Gambhir, Rahane. Also what about India giving 19 wickets to Moin Ali. That wasn't unfamiliar territory for these batsmen, it was just bad strategy and shot selection. This 5 Test Series has ruthlessly exposed the Indian top order against the moving ball. We knew all along that our bowling is weak but we never expected this kind of surrender by the batsmen. In fact the bowling has done far better than expected. If India lose this last test, they would have lost 13 of the last 17 overseas tests. Had this happened to any other country many heads would roll including coaches & support staff. After England lost the Ashes 5-0, many careers ended and Andy Flower & Gooch had to go. But in India the status quo continues and nothing much changes. The people at the helm are not serious about Test Cricket.

Posted by NSDcricket on (August 17, 2014, 9:17 GMT)

though India do have good batsman this is a good time for the indian batsman crazed Indian fans to dome down to earth. in india clearly the conditions are so so heavily favored towards home batsmen that they get found out when the pitch and contest is even slightly more even between bat & ball (outside the country). This is why the indian batsman are not as good as what their fans and commentators make them out to be and this is why openers like cook really are admirable. they face the toughest possible test out there,facing the new ball in swinging conditions. And this is why cook' runs are more admirable than say clerk's (who comes at 5). Really a 5 test series is the best to find out the capabilities of both batsman, bowlers and the tacticians. I wish more bilateral series can be this way.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (August 17, 2014, 8:16 GMT)

What a headline! Toughest test? You've got Australia to come. And Indian Eagle, I will reply. Australia have a far better away record than SA, just not in India. That does not make them home track bullies.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (August 17, 2014, 8:05 GMT)

Great batsmanship is defined by the ability to bat effectively in all conditions against all types of bowling. Test cricket is forensically thorough in examining a batsman's technique and temperament. A full series, containing up to ten innings, leaves no hiding place. Test matches allow the fielding captain to use his bowlers without the ten/four over limit being imposed on his best wicket takers. Likewise, he is not bound by the stringent fielding restrictions found in 50/20 over cricket. That is why TC is the game's gold standard - and why many baulk at it, preferring format stuff. All but the very best will be found out and it seems that, despite the plaudits that Kohli & Pujara received prior to this tour, they are a long, long way short of being called great batsmen. The good news that both are young, and that with hard work and diligence, they may come back to England one day and show the world that they have made the Truly Great category. I hope that they do.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 7:19 GMT)

Pujara needs a big overhaul in his stance, which very difficult at this stage of his career. He is well spotted on his weakness., Currently the incoming balls that goes through his defence to hit the stumps could be leg flicks to boundary for some other upright stance player. Since he nearly squats in his stance, if ever he misses the ball it would hit the stumps. Bowlers are in a better position to take his wicket by bowling to a length that would be mildly over pitched to him. To some other player with the same height as Pujara but with a relatively upright stance it could be a bread and butter flick for regular runs. It does not end here. The right hand grip is so low and firmly held that it does not swivel in his hand for been well placed to play incoming deliveries leading to edges on the pads. Pujara needs a major overhaul due to which no County would invite him to play senior grade cricket.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 6:35 GMT)

My prediction for India's first innings was 90% true. Here's my 2nd innings ~ 1/10,2/22,3/36,4/50,5/130,6/155,7/167,8/175,9/178,10/183. India will definitely lose by an innings. I swear in front of all the ipl lovers.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 6:31 GMT)

@Prabhakar: I was hoping the same..wished SL, who hung on to a tough draw in the 1st Test and who dominated England tactically and won the second test..had 5 tests and India got only 2...would have being more competitive cricket on display...probably would have won more tests against this out of form England side. Being an Aussie citizen waiting to see India's talents down under...not planning to buy tickets for 4 th or 5th days though.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 6:03 GMT)

Maybe we should have forced the English board for a 2 test series like Sri Lanka. Then we would have come back winners!!!

Posted by DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on (August 17, 2014, 5:56 GMT)

kohli performed well in SA, failed in current series. it is too early to say anything about him. if kohli is flat track bully then Ponting is fast track bully. His average in India is 26 even though he performed well in other parts of sub.

Posted by passionatefan2010 on (August 17, 2014, 5:49 GMT)

There are a number of reasons for the so-called star batting line for failing:

1. Wickets in South Africa and NZ were different -- bouncy and pacy to which the batsmen adjusted relatively better. The NZ pitches don't swing like they would in the past. 2. Most batsmen, especially openers don't have the temperament to play quality swing bowling. Some batsmen do have the technique like Vijay and Rahane showed but they certainly don't have sustainable temperament. Rahane, after scoring such a brilliant century at Lord's, has unraveled. So many of the shots Indian batsmen played have been suicidal --- they don't value their wickets at all. 3. Players like Jadeja and Binny do not have the technique or temperament to play in English conditions. They have been found out badly over the course of a five-test series.

Posted by IndianEagle on (August 17, 2014, 5:36 GMT)

yes Indians are flat track bullies, when was last time nz won test series in India? in last 35 years england just won 1 test series in India! eng thrashed badly by Indians in other formats! under Ricky pointing Oz's never won test series in India! In that period Oz's won only once under Gilchrist. SL never won test test match in India, WI no need to talk about them. SA only team won in all places. all other except SA are home track bullies. if anything wrong or false in my comments please reply guys.

Posted by IndianEagle on (August 17, 2014, 5:33 GMT)

yes Indians are flat track bullies, when was last time nz won test series in India? in last 35 years england just won 1 test series in India! eng thrashed badly by Indians in other formats! under Ricky pointing Oz's never won test series in India! In that period Oz's won only once under Gilchrist. SL never won test test match in India, WI no need to talk about them. SA only team won in all places. all other except SA are home track bullies. if anything wrong or false in my comments please reply guys.

Posted by aarifboy on (August 17, 2014, 5:20 GMT)

India needs Sehwag on tours abroad just like England would need Kevin.Both teams can only win at home without these two

Posted by Leggie on (August 17, 2014, 5:11 GMT)

(Continued) failed against the spin of Moen Ali. Its not normal indeed. But then, as a fan of Indian cricket, I would hope they would definitely succeed "consistently" in the future. As Sambit points out, every one of them in the batting line up has success in good bowling conditions. Meanwhile, I only hope that average cricket fans stop this mud slinging exercise. Cricinfo is a wonderful cricket portal. Let's take cricketing discussions to an intellectual level and not get into crass mud slinging.

Posted by Leggie on (August 17, 2014, 5:04 GMT)

@KiwiRocker: Sambit doesn't say that Indian batsmen are flat track bullies. That is possibly what you and strong critics of Indian cricket want to hear!!! Yes, the Indian batting has failed in this series. No one disputes that. But what's surprising is that Indian batsman get branded the very instance they fail. Sambit has rightly listed some of the notable performances away from home for 10 Test matches before the wheels started to come off. For true fans of cricket who follow every countries' cricket closely, this will indeed be intriguing! For those who brand Indian batting, take a close look at your own performances against good attacks on seaming conditions! England got hammered not so long ago 0-5, Aussies had terrible moments vs SA and NZ - crashing to sub 100 totals, SA themselves got bowled out to sub 200 total vs india recently, and so did NZ. No country can claim superiority when it comes to playing fast bowling well. The irony of India's failure in England is that they've..

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 4:52 GMT)

No matter what happens...this Indian team is the best in business in any forms of cricket. Dhoni is the best captain ever and most imaginative of all..Kholi is the greatest ever to come out of India after Sachin...and currently the best going around under any condition..Indian team is far superior in talent than any other team in the world and star quality...and 75% of cricket income comes because cricket is blessed with the presence of this Indian team...BTW..this is how non-Indian fans think of Indian fan's thinking process

Posted by Damian123 on (August 17, 2014, 4:17 GMT)

Most Indian fans even thought Kohli is superior than Sangakkara, but the moment of truth has arrived. Check Sanga's scores in the early English summer against the same attack and compare those with Kohli's to see the difference in class and skills. Kohli is definitely better in $$$.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (August 17, 2014, 4:12 GMT)

I fully agree with Sambit. These flat track bullies have been clearly found out. However, the worrying thing is that England is not even good. I mean England is not even rated in top three test playing nations. The real tough test is on the way in Australia where Mitchell Johnson and likes would be licking their lips on these hapless Indian batsmen. Rohit Sharma came and left. Dhawan starred as a super star and now he is in dust. Kohli and Pujara have performed worse than tailenders. Vijay has been inconsistent and so is case for Rahane. The whole Indian team selection was wrong. Everyone knew that India will struggle with bowling but their batting has failed them. Mind you, just few weeks back Sri Lanka won in England against same English team. Time has come to make tough decision and one of them is to sack Dhoni and Kohli and bring back Sehwag. Atleast poor man clicked once in a while..

Posted by inswing on (August 17, 2014, 3:06 GMT)

Fans' memories last about 4 days. As soon as they reach India, the same batsmen will start making centuries and the spinners will start taking wickets. Everything will be forgotten and Dhoni will be called the greatest captain again.

Posted by J_Lo on (August 17, 2014, 2:39 GMT)

The only way the Indian batsmen can come out of this form slump is to get the Indian cricket board to negotiate with English counter parts and prepare some flat tracks in England. Mitch Johnson and Co. down under are counting days for the Indian tour to improve their global rankings. High time the Indian cricket board looks into these issues and organize a few home tours to ensure the averages of their star batsmen doesn't fall under 40's.

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 2:36 GMT)

"Which county wouldn't want a couple of fine Indian batsmen?" Precisely. But will they make time from their busy schedule (IPL and other irrelevant obligations) to better their trade. I DONT THINK SO. If nothing else we should take solace from the fact that these guys have managed to win a test which was definitely not expected. Let's be patient I remember Australia 1999, I also remember 2003. I hope to see a much better performance in 4 years if and when we are back in England.

Posted by Sexysteven on (August 17, 2014, 2:30 GMT)

Indias got major issues specially away from home dhoni has to give up the captaincy and the gloves for me amore aggressive captain like kohli might help rahane vijay to open pujara kohli rohit dhoni either ojha or Samson to keep ashwin then three fast bowlers need to rotate them more to keep them fresh kumar when he's fresh Aaron umesh would be my team

Posted by   on (August 17, 2014, 2:17 GMT)

Sambit Bal's article does not touch Dhoni's failure as a captain. Dhoni has committed many mistakes in team selection and in bowling changes. But the biggest failure, IMO, is that of leadership. Many say that the turning point has been the dropped catch by Jadeja at Southampton. I dont' believe so. It was the defensive tactics on the first morning and that afternoon gave opportunity for England to recover their confidence. The Indian captain failed to apply psychological pressure on a team and a captain whose morale was down. Added to this the Indian player's fitness and stamina are also major contributors.

Posted by Sinhabahu on (August 17, 2014, 2:15 GMT)

I remember some experts saying that Kohli will score at least 3 hundreds and that B. Kumar could score 300 runs and get 20 wickets in the series, but the cookie has truly crumbled here. The truth is that this team is too inexperienced and maybe even over-hyped for such feats.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (August 17, 2014, 1:55 GMT)

People need to realise this is nearly all the Indian test teams first test series in England. Only Dhoni has played tests here before and this shows in the stats. Also England have had favourable conditions in both first tests and made full use of them.

Posted by dunger.bob on (August 17, 2014, 0:07 GMT)

I think there are two issues here.

1] Not enough credit has been given to the England bowling. It's generally been very good and most teams would have struggled against it. Anderson and Broad, in England, on seaming pitches, are about as good as it gets.

2] The India batting is not as good as most Indians think it is. They are not stars of any type. Put them up against decent swing/seam/pace bowling and they instantly look worried. Add a bit of bounce and they start to melt. .. Sorry Indian fans but it's the absolute truth.

Posted by spinkingKK on (August 16, 2014, 23:22 GMT)

After the 2nd test, it was clear that Pujara wasn't going to score. After giving one test to Gambhir, it was very very clear that he wasn't going to make any impact. Kohli being a fighter, I can understand they persisted with him. India should have played Dhawan and Rohit in this match. Dhawan is a match winner if he gets going. If he can score a century in the New Zealand minefield, then he can score anywhere. Indian team selectors never select Rohit when he should be selected. Their last Australian tour is another prime example. Another biggest problem India facing is, they have no more captaincy candidate. Only other captaincy candidate, Kohli, is struggling. So, Dhoni is the only way forward(backward). May be they can bring back Sehwag and make him the captain.

Posted by spinkingKK on (August 16, 2014, 23:06 GMT)

India's batting STARS? I don't know whom you referring to. India got no batting stars anymore. Pujara and Kohli were never a upgraded to the star status. Scoring a couple of centuries in a batting friendly conditions doesn't make someone a star. Kohli, to some extend, with his fighting century and half centuries in Australia, was beginning to become a star. But, with his flaws exposed, it is going to be bit difficult now. Dhawan can also become a star. But, I don't know if he will get another chance. Rehane showed glimpses of becoming a star. But, now, looks like a hit or miss kind of player. India only got one star. That is Aaron. But, I am sure the team management will soon drop him to accommodate some Kumar's or Binny's.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 23:00 GMT)

Shikhar Dhawan needs to be looked at to see if he really should be the opening batsman for India. As I said in my previous comment about how Dhoni should quit ODI and test captaincy regarding that if I were a selector my candidates for Test and ODI captaincy would be Virat Kohli,Rohit Sharma,Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja,Bhuveneshwhar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin. I reckon Pujara should be brought into the ODI side he can excel in the side he just needs more exposure. Bhuvi and Ashwin in terms of leaders are similair to Anil Kumble. I would name Virat Kohli as captain and have Ravindra Jadeja as vice captain

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 22:50 GMT)

Something really needs to be changed in the Indian team especially when they play overseas. I reckon Dhoni should retire from tests after the Australia tour and he should quit the ODI captaincy after the World Cup whether India win or crash badly. Dhoni best suits T20 and he should keep the T20 captaincy and play on in T20 and ODI's until he retires from all cricket. India have found good bowlers for there department but they need to find a solid batsman maybe an opener or even a lower order batsman that can play along with the likes Virat,Rohit and Cheteshwar. The lows of this series for India are blamed entirely on the batting. I hate to say this but I think India to need to cut Gambhir out of the team they need to look to the future for openers. They need to do something similair to how Sehwag or Pietersen lost thier contract

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 21:37 GMT)

Referring to the opening phrase of this article" India's finest collection of batsmen"... India has never changed as a cricket TEAM! Always made up of star batsmen who rarely clicked as a team! With all those star studded batsmen when did we ever dominate the test cricket stage for more than a few months or a year?? All the fans want is individual performances and not team performances! So this will continue in the years to come with the likes of Kholi, Pujara,Dhawan etc getting a century soon and that's all the fans want! Bringing shame & disgrace to the nation doesn't matter as long as the so called stars perform & their pockets overflow with $ while other countries work hard with new strategies to won!

Posted by Mill1 on (August 16, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

I agree with the article totally! Abhinav Mukund is one batsmen who impressed in the last tour as an opener but simply wasn't given the opportunities he deserved. Instead India went, as they usually do for more flashy opening batsmen and paid the price! Gambhir got out on the last tour to England on numberous occasions playing across the line to a straight ball and getting an outside edge...no technique at all and he hasn't learned...Mukund should have been on the tour...but i can see them giving the place to another flashy opener instead (Chand!)...they need to realise a solid 40 scored by Mukund on the last tour showed promise. One more thing...PRAGYAN OJHA is India's best SPINNER!! He took lots of wickets for Surrey last year in playing county cricket. So he as shown he can take wickets in these conditions. So he should be Indias' No.1. Plus he took a 10 wicket haul in his last match!

Posted by glen1 on (August 16, 2014, 20:48 GMT)

Just before the start of the series, most avid cricket fans commented that India will help Cook & Bell come back to form, help England develop a spinner for the Ashes, win the series convincingly, and stop worrying about the Lanka loss. Those were easy comments to make, but suffering through this series has been a misery. The only ones unaffected are the players led by Dhoni, for whom it seems that the journey is all that is important, not the destination. Only Australia and SA can test this English team to know if it is good or not.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 20:27 GMT)

@glen1, remember India & ENgland are the two of Big Three. That's why this series is a 5 test series. I don't agree with u that 5-test series takes its toll on the travellers. It's just that both teams (Eng & Ind) were going through emerging phase. In the first test, England touched to their low, then rose up in coming matches, while India kept declining their performance. India's performance was bad since the 3rd test, so it's not the long series to blame. In this history, up to 1980s, both sub-continental teams played a lot of 5-match or a 4-match series. Therefore, its also not agreeable that only SA, Eng and Aus should play longer series. If SA play a 5-test series in India, they could go horrible too ...

Posted by Kapstif on (August 16, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

Kohli plays too much one-day cricket to allow him time to play county cricket but Pujara should seek to join a county next year. As a guy who barely starts for his IPL side his career would be much better developed by missing the IPL altogether and spending a season batting in England.

Posted by SpaMaster on (August 16, 2014, 20:16 GMT)

A balanced and sensible article. Yes, these batsmen have all the potential it takes to do well in overseas conditions. But they need to iron out some mistakes and spend some time on it. One small correction. Vijay is not a flair batsman who has adopted patience. As an opener, he has always been very patient. His nickname is 'Monk' from his local circle because of his sedate approach to batting. It's just that he can be attacking also and we got to see that from his T20 stints. So Vijay is very much a part of this promising line-up. Dhawan though has looked hit and miss. They really need to groom more young players for opening. One example is Abhinav Mukund. They also need to look beyond Rohit Sharma. He can't take the no. 6 for granted. He hasn't shown the temperament and attitude needed for Test batting. So this batting line-up has lot of skills, but they need to do a lot of work so that they could realize their potential.

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 20:16 GMT)

@the heading. Stars ? they were made stars by their media and their home pitches. They r yet new born babies in the eyes of Cricketing world. They can only score centuries at spinning tracks. This Pujara, Kohli and Dhawan especially. They should play Wasim Jaffar as permanent opening batsman in place of Dhawan. Also, Rohit Sharma despite being notorious of his consistency, is a better batsman on fast bowling friendly pitches.

Posted by Indiaforever on (August 16, 2014, 20:15 GMT)

The main thing which is worrying is that both these players have played well outside the subcontinent already and so this performance is shocking. Every batsmen goes through a period where they are not playing that well and are finding it hard to score runs, in this series it has been these two, in particular, although the whole line up has failed (excluding dhoni).

If India are gonna have any chance to come back into this match then these two need to perform. This innings will not shadow how badly they have played in the previous tests but it is still important. Hopefully Vijay and Gauti can give us a good start, that is the most important thing.

Posted by glen1 on (August 16, 2014, 20:14 GMT)

Long sequence of five tests doesn't help. If it was a two test series, India would have gone home claiming even a stronger win than Sri Lanka. While the batsmen played well in SA and NZ, those were losing two test series. The five test is a very attritional format that is difficult for travellers, and the momentum shift can be dangeorusly alarming. The current stars, great as they are, cannot handle five tests formats; the series needs to be reduced to three at most. Let Eng, SA, and Aus play longer formats as they are suited for it. Also, it doesn't help that Dhoni does not win any of the crucial tosses, and that the umpiring decisions seem to support implementing DRS.

Posted by hhillbumper on (August 16, 2014, 20:12 GMT)

This was the team that was meant to bust England. So what happened. Every time India play a test series here they are terrible. Can we play Bangladesh for a more challenging game?

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 20:12 GMT)

Now a days. .If india lasts for 5 days it's a fight....thing will go even worse...If stern action not taken..against the approach

Posted by   on (August 16, 2014, 20:08 GMT)

No worries...Wi series is coming up pujara 2 centuries kohli 1 century ..all hunky dory.... Fast forward 2 down under ..... Same eng performance repetition or worse may be..

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Sambit BalClose
Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.
Related Links
Players/Officials: Cheteshwar Pujara | Virat Kohli
Series/Tournaments: India tour of England
Teams: England | India
Tour Results
England v India at Birmingham - Sep 7, 2014
England won by 3 runs
England v India at Leeds - Sep 5, 2014
England won by 41 runs
England v India at Birmingham - Sep 2, 2014
India won by 9 wickets (with 117 balls remaining)
England v India at Nottingham - Aug 30, 2014
India won by 6 wickets (with 42 balls remaining)
England v India at Cardiff - Aug 27, 2014
India won by 133 runs (D/L method)
More results »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days