India vs England: India need to improve slip catching to compete in this series

While the limelight, and quite rightly, stayed on Virat Kohli, it must not be forgotten that Indian bowlers took 20 wickets once again.

cricket Updated: Aug 06, 2018 09:50 IST
Virat Kohli,Ishant Sahrma,Shikhar Dhawan
England's Adil Rashid is dropped by India's Shikhar Dhawan.(Action Images via Reuters)

It started as an England vs India game but turned out to be an England vs Kohli one. On the first day, it was the run-out of Joe Root that triggered the English collapse, on the second, it was Kohli’s knock that kept India in the hunt and on the third day, once again it was Kohli’s unbeaten 43 that kept the hopes alive.

Kohli failed on the fourth morning and with him the Indian resistance ended too. Kohli has not only ended the debate about his effectiveness in English conditions but has also proved that he’s the best batsman in the world across three formats. But it’ll need a lot more than him for India to make a comeback in the Test series.

Bowlers delivered, once again

While the limelight, and quite rightly, stayed on Kohli, it must not be forgotten that Indian bowlers took 20 wickets once again. They had dismissed South Africa twice in all three Test matches earlier this year. However, just like it happened in South Africa, it was the Indian batting that let them down here.

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In the absence of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah, Ishant and Shami stood up. Ishant’s five-wicket haul in the second innings was one of his finest Test bowling performances. I rate this effort ahead of the seven wickets he took at Lord’s in 2014. Ashwin’s contribution is another huge positive from the Edgbaston Test, for like Kohli, his effectiveness or the lack of it in English conditions was scrutinised threadbare. He broke the back of England batting twice in two innings.

Catching let the bowlers down

This Test match showed that imperfections can also lead to a perfect spectacle. It was Root’s needless call for a non-existing second run that brought India back in the game, it were the dropped catches of Kohli and Pandya that kept India in the hunt and it were the dropped catches of Curran and Rashid that gave England a fighting chance.

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Both teams dropped catches but, unfortunately, India ended up dropping the most crucial catch — of Curran — that sealed the fate of the game. Indian slip catching has been an area of grave concern for the longest time. India’s slip catching conversion since 2015 is second from bottom in the list of all Test teams. While it’s impossible to change this overnight, India will have to somehow improve significantly to compete throughout the series.

Batting minus Kohli

Kohli scored 149 and 51 in two innings but none of the other Indian batsmen could get to even 40. Rahane and Vijay, India’s blue chip stocks in overseas conditions, failed. Rahane’s last 12 Test innings have produced an average of a little over 12 runs per innings. Vijay’s overseas returns in the last four Tests aren’t that impressive either. Incidentally, both Rahane and Vijay were instrumental in India winning the Test when India last played at Lord’s and India will be hoping they repeat their heroics. The bigger concern is the lack of runs from Dhawan and Rahul, for one of them played at the cost of Cheteshwar Pujara. Now that they were preferred over him in the first Test, they should be persisted with for the second Test too. But both shall realise that their place in the XI is hanging by a thread.

(Aakash Chopra is a former Test opener and is writing exclusively for Hindustan Times. Views expressed are personal)

First Published: Aug 06, 2018 09:48 IST