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India vs England: Virat Kohli’s team selection policy bewildering, says Aakash Chopra

As much as Virat Kohli is revered and will be remembered as one of the finest batsmen to grace this game, he’ll also be remembered as a captain who didn’t play an identical XI in two consecutive games for 37 games and counting, and also as someone who made some interesting choices!

cricket Updated: Aug 14, 2018 08:22 IST
Virat Kohli,Shikhar Dhawan,Cheteshwar Pujara
Team India has never played a same XI under Virat Kohli in 37 tests so far. (Action Images via Reuters)

India missed a spinner at Edgbaston and a fast bowler at Lord’s. On the other hand, Ben Stokes missed out for the second Test but England didn’t miss him at all.

Woakes wasn’t a part of the original Test squad but made it to the playing XI for the second Test courtesy the green pitch and overcast conditions, and he produced a performance to remember.

In fact, Woakes’ batting performance alone encapsulates India’s agony perfectly, for he scored 137 without getting dismissed and 10 Indian batsmen couldn’t cross his personal score in either of the innings.

Team selection

As much as Virat Kohli is revered and will be remembered as one of the finest batsmen to grace this game, he’ll also be remembered as a captain who didn’t play an identical XI in two consecutive games for 37 games and counting, and also as someone who made some interesting choices!

ALSO READ: India vs England: BCCI likely to question Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli after Test failures

Kohli dropped the team’s vice-captain for the first two Tests in South Africa, dropped Cheteshwar Pujara for the first Test in England and has used Shikhar Dhawan only for the opening Test in two consecutive overseas tours.

Interestingly, India fielded two spinners for the second Test when their opponents went with four quicks. The pitch was green and under covers for over 24 hours, and while that ensured that India also wanted to field first (had India won the toss), it didn’t force them to play an extra seamer.

India aren’t known to travel well and that makes team-selection a critical piece in the jigsaw puzzle. Team management will have to take a harder look at its decisions.

Batting woes

India were at the wrong end of the conditions with both bat and ball. It was overcast on the first day when James Anderson ran through the Indian batting, it turned nice and sunny when India bowled and the clouds returned when it was India’s turn to bat again in the second innings.

It felt that even the usually unpredictable English weather was hand in glove with the hosts. But good teams and champion players don’t look for excuses; they find answers instead.

From the beginning of 2018, India have played five overseas Tests and there are only two 50-plus scores from Indian batsmen besides Kohli. That’s five batsmen (minus Kohli) over 10 innings, which translates into two fifties in 50 innings.

ALSO READ: How 5-0 whitewash against England will impact India’s number 1 Test ranking

The biggest area of concern is the lack of runs from proven overseas performers like Murali Vijay and Rahane. If your blue chip stock fails, there’s very little chance of survival.

Why learn Spanish?

Has the batting technique deteriorated so much that it’s impossible to survive slightly challenging conditions?

Yes, it has and it’s not limited to the Indian batsmen, for that’s the story across the globe. No batting unit shows the stomach for a fight when the conditions are favoring bowlers -- spinners and fast bowlers alike.

There’s an obvious decline in development of skills best suited for tougher conditions and reason for that is the presence of flat pitches across the globe, even for most Test matches.

If speaking-reading English is enough to cover the countries you frequent, why would you spend time learning Spanish that you might visit once in four years?

(The author is a former Indian Test batsman. Views are personal)

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 08:22 IST