Patience, focus, consistency, winning minor duels in a session and then winning multiple sessions - these are the things India have not been able to master and England have. And that is reason England have won the Pataudi Trophy 3-1 against the No. 1 Test team. This is how India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane sums up events in the series thus far. India have done "nothing wrong", he feels, but England have just been "better".
Rahane, whose resolute second-innings half-century was one of the few highlights of the Indian batting in the Southampton defeat, said India just have to persevere in the final match of the series, which also happens to be his 50th Test. "In Test cricket you have to win each and every session," Rahane said. "You look to win each and every session. I don't think we did anything wrong, but England played better cricket. They were consistent in their bowling, they bowled with patience."
Rahane admitted that the Indian batsmen, despite being an experienced unit, "fell short", failing to back up the hard work of the fast bowlers who dominated England virtually all through the first four Tests. In the high-pressure passages, he said, England consistently came out on top. "When you travel abroad, every session you have to give 100%. Many times there are tough moments. In those tough moments, how you capitalise and how you capture them is very important. In my opinion England did that very nicely. When they were in a tough situation, the way their Nos. 7, 8, 9 batted, their contributions were very important. Even their bowling, even though we were batting well, they showed patience in their bowling. That is the only reason they are 3-1."
Rahane has been one of India's best overseas batsmen, but on this tour he has failed to convert starts despite watchful beginnings. He has only two half-centuries in eight innings and is the third-best Indian batsman in terms of runs scored (220) behind Kohli (544) and Cheteshwar Pujara (241). Kohli has scored more than twice the runs of any other batsman across both teams.
Rahane said Kohli entered the series with everyone talking about his nightmarish tour of England in 2014, when he struggled to put bat on ball and was exposed by James Anderson. Rahane said the reason Kohli has succeeded was because he kept his focus on the ball and nothing else, something he and the other India batsmen can only learn from. "As far as Virat's batting is concerned, the way he conducted himself, the way he showed the consistency... There were a lot of people talking about him, whether he would perform in England or not, but in my opinion his focus was solely on playing cricket and he did not pay attention to anything else.
"We all should learn from him, about how your focus should be on what you need to pay attention to. As a team-mate and as our captain, we have a lot to learn from him and we have learned a lot from him."