India vs England: Team India Report Card - How Virat Kohli & Co fared in the first Test match

From the first wicket to R Ashwin, to Virat Kohli’s brilliance in the field, to England’s collapse, to India’s struggles against the seaming ball, to Virat Kohli’s brilliance with the bat.
India lost the first Test to England at Edgbaston by 31 runs.(Getty Images)
India lost the first Test to England at Edgbaston by 31 runs.(Getty Images)
Updated on Aug 05, 2018 11:51 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByManish K Pathak

It was billed as the final frontier, for Virat Kohli the batsman, for Virat Kohli the captain. His side had shunted away everyone at home, his side had overcome a treacherous pitch at the Wanderers, his side is never settled, his side has been playing together since 2014, his side was up against it.

And then Joe Root won the toss, elected to bat first, Kohli said he would have been happy to bowl, both sides were happy, the battle began. And a battle it was.

From the first wicket to R Ashwin, to Virat Kohli’s brilliance in the field, to England’s collapse, to India’s stuggles against the seaming ball, to Virat Kohli’s brilliance with the bat. It was all even, when England slipped again in the second innings. Seam and spin, they had no answers to either and were blown away on the third day.

Perhaps, the first Test dropped the hammer, perhaps it is a sign of things to come, but well, it has happened. India were good, there were flaws, there was Kohli and then there was defeat. Yes, there will be changes made, but the players should take a deep breath and introspect. Test cricket for so many reasons is an extrapolation of life.

Here is the report card of the Indian players.

Shikhar Dhawan: Rating: 1, Verdict: Very Poor

It was a bold call by the Indian management to include Shikhar Dhawan in the side after he bagged a pair in the warmup match against Essex. However, Cheteshwar Pujara was axed, Dhawan was included and the southpaw was not convincing at all.

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Against the moving ball, he showed how not to bat. He was willing to play his drives on the up and even though he managed to get a few strokes away, he was dismissed caught behind in both the innings. Loose outside off with no feet movement and Dhawan was never going to be successful under such seaming conditons.

And then he was miserable at first slip. He took a couple of catches, but dropped a few and this proved to be costly for India. He grassed Sam Curran in the second innings and the 63 which the young Surrey lad made was the difference between the teams.

Murali Vijay: Rating: 3, Verdict: Below Average

The calm of Murali Vijay stood out during the 2014 series, and he was expected to be the rock against the moving new ball. However, the Tamil Nadu man looked jittery against the ball coming back in after pitching and was trapped in front in both the innings.

Sam Curran got one to nip back in and trapped him in front in the first essay, while he was sent back packing in the second innings when he he offered no shot to delivery which was aimed for the stumps by Stuart Broad.

Vijay needs to stand up and be counted if India need to be successful in this series.

KL Rahul: Rating: 2, Verdict: Poor

There is so much noise about KL Rahul being one of the best prospects in India at the moment, but after his century in the first T20I, he has seldom looked in tune with what is expected of him.

He replaced Cheteshwar Pujara at the number three position but his strokes leading to his dismissal left a lot to be desired. He chased a wide one in the first innings and dragged the ball onto his stumps.

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In the second innings, he offered a meek bat to a seaming ball outside off and nicked it to Jonny Bairstow.

He has the talent, but if he wants to be successful in England conditions against the swinging Duke ball, he has to restrain himself and not go for the flamboyant strokes early in his innings.

Virat Kohli: Rating 9, Verdict: Very Good

It was billed as the final frontier, for Virat Kohli the batsman, for Virat Kohli the captain.

Kohli the batsman stood tall, dragged his side from the doldrums to a position of strength and then once again was marshalling the troops, got them close to the finishing line. When he blinked, everything shattered around him. 200 runs scored in the match, an epic crafted, followed by a heartbreak.

However, Kohli the captain could have done better, more so in the England second innings when they were on the mat, but Sam Curran played a blitzkrieg and bailed his side out.

It is all part of the learning process.

Ajinkya Rahane: Rating 2, Verdict: Poor

For many in the cricketing parleys, Ajinkya Rahane was the most suited batsman in English conditions, but the Indian vice captain never got going in the match and both his dismissals left a lot to be desired.’

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He poked at an away swinger from Ben Stokes in the first innings and then offered a meek waft at a short ball from Sam Curran in the second innings. Rahane has to stand up and be counted if India are to make a comeback in the series and assist his captain.

Dinesh Karthik; Rating: 2, Verdict: Poor

He was named in the side instead of Wriddhiman Saha and a lot was expected from the Tamil Nadu-man who was playing in England after 2007.

However, not only did he not look convincing behind the stumps, and fumbled a lot of crucial chances as the wicket-keeper, but failed to kick on with the bat, more so in the second innings when he needed to stick around with his captain.

He has the experience to deal with these conditions and has to do a lot more to convert half chances to assist the bowlers in the second Test match.

Hardik Pandya: Rating: 4, Verdict: Average

He faced a lot of criticism, he keeps receiving flak, but Hardik Pandya, looked far more assured than the rest of the batting order and he needs to be given more responsibility both with the bat and the ball in the second Test.

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Being the fifth bowler in the team, Kohli needs to trust him with extended spells. Also, being the all-rounder in the side, he should bat no lower than number six.

Ravichandran Ashwin: Rating: 8, Verdict: Very Good

There were question marks on the position of R Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav was the favourite to take the spinner’s spot. However, Ashwin not only muted all his detractors, by picking up seven wickets in the Test he registered his career-best figures of 7/121 in a Test outside Asia.

He troubled the English batting right through and should continue to do so for the remainder of the series.

Mohammed Shami: Rating:6, Verdict: Good

“(The tour of) South Africa was a long time ago and there have been some off field issues after that. I had to fight a lot in between but my effort was that I have to keep doing what I love most and what is most important to me (cricket),” Shami said at the end of Day 1.

It was an inspired burst from Shami who picked up two wickets on the first day and then finished off the job early on day 2.

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However, when the conditions were ripe, he was not in control of his line and lengths and allowed runs to leak and could not pick up even a single wicket in the second dig. He needs to be more consistent in the upcoming Test matches.

Ishant Sharma: Rating: 9; Verdict: Very Good

The lanky pacer vindicated the tag of being the spearhead of the bowling attack when he sliced through the batting order in the second innings. He picked up Jonny Bairstown, Dawid Malan, and Ben Stokes in one over to put England on the mat. With a five-wicket haul in the second innings, Ishant is the best seam bowler in India at the moment.

India would hope he carries his form and remains fit and hungry for the rest of the series.

Umesh Yadav: Rating: 5, Verdict: Average

He blew hot and cold, took the new ball in the first innings sprayed it all over the place, came back and picked up the crucial wicket of Jonny Bairstow.

Also, in the second dig, he was introduced quite late in the piece and looked impressive when the ball was seaming all over the place.

However, he could well make way for Jasprit Bumrah in the second Test as India would look for more control.

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