India vs Essex: Team India Report Card - How Virat Kohli & Co fared in the warm-up match
India and Essex played out a tame draw in the three-day warm-up match ahead of the Test series against England. Hindustan Times takes a look at the performance of the Indian cricketers.cricket Updated: Jul 28, 2018 22:16 IST
Team India’s three-day warm-up match against Essex ended in an expected draw, but not before giving some warning signals to the tourists. The Indians were bowled out for 395 in the first innings and the bowlers toiled hard in sunny conditions, but couldn’t bowl the opposition out, who declared their innings 359/8. The Indian top order got a chance of batting for a second time and that is where the problems resurfaced.
We take a look at the performances of the players who took part in the match for the Indians -
Shikhar Dhawan: Rating: 0, Verdict: Very Poor
It is time the Indian team management realised Shikhar Dhawan is not Virender Sehwag. The southpaw might be an impact player at the top of the order in Test matches in sub-continental conditions but he does not have the technique to survive in conditions where the ball moves. He has had abysmal tours outside the sub-continent, getting dropped from the playing xi mid-way through the series, on several occasions and if the two dismissals against Essex are any signs, he should not make the playing xi in the first Test. Dhawan was dismissed for a pair, edging one to the keeper in the first innings and then losing his stumps in the second. His footwork is shaky and the quality of bowlers in the England team is far superior from those who bowled at Chelmsford.
Murali Vijay: Rating: 8, Verdict: Very Good
The big relief for the team management must be the sight of Murali Vijay timing the ball the way he did. The big shuffle towards the off-stump, that he developed during the South Africa tour, is gone and so is the shaky footwork. Vijay looked in great touch as he compiled a slow and steady half-century in the first innings. He remained unbeaten on 36 in the second innings and it was clear that ‘the monk’ was in the zone. Some of Vijay’s cover drives were exquisite.
Cheteshwar Pujara: Rating: 3, Verdict: Poor
The India number 3 has had his longest county stint this season and is ideally the best prepared for this tour. In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, Pujara even mentioned that the Indian batsmen are better prepared for English conditions this time than they were in 2014. But the Saurashtra batsman couldn’t walk the talk in the first innings as he was dismissed for just 1 run, edging one to the keeper. Although he did get some runs (23) under his belt in the second innings, he failed to remain unbeaten. For Pujara, this could be the last opportunity to show the world that he has the technique to do well outside the sub-continent and both he and the team would hope that runs flow from his bat during the Test matches.
Ajinkya Rahane: Rating: 4, Verdict: Below Average
Another worry for the management after the warm-up match. Rahane scored a laboured 17 in the first innings before edging one to the keeper. It could be a case of lack of confidence. Rahane’s graph has gone down drastically over the last year and a half. From being a certainty in all formats, he found himself out of the limited overs squad for the England series. With Rohit Sharma out of the equation for now, his Test spot looks safe, but Rahane will have to get his flair and confidence back and once again become the pillar of strength that he was for India in the middle order. His performance in the warm-up match didn’t inspire much confidence though.
Virat Kohli: Rating: 8, Verdict: Very Good
The Indians were in a hole when he came out to bat in the first innings against Essex and he did exactly what he does every time. He lifted the spirits of everyone with some scintillating stroke play. Suddenly the Essex bowlers started looking county standard again and Kohli went about scoring at will. The cover drives were pristine, the footwork assured and the wristy flicks were crafty, Kohli gave a glimpse of what Anderson and company could expect from him in the Tests. His 68 in the first innings laid the platform for the batsmen who followed to get some good batting practice under their belt.
KL Rahul: Rating: 8, Verdict: Very Good
He is increasingly looking like the next big thing of Indian batting. There have been several false dawns before but Rahul has started to come of age in all formats now and the Indian team management would hope he gets more consistent, starting this tour. Rahul also looked in good touch as he played shots all over the park, although the ball was old by then and the bowlers were tiring. Rahul’s big test will be at Edgbaston, where in all probabilities he will open with Vijay.
Dinesh Karthik: Rating: 8, Verdict: Very Good
It is said that one has to be ready when their time comes and DK has done just that. Saha’s injury is unfortunate but it opens the door completely for Karthik to resurrect his career. He is batting like a dream currently and he showcased the same in the warm-up game too as he top scored with a knock of 82. His attacking instincts make him a good batsman down the order as he can get the quick runs off the old ball that often helps the team totals in gruelling tours like these. His footwork against spin was solid as well. Wicket-keeping will be the big test for Karthik but he has done the job for years now and India would hope does well on this tour.
Hardik Pandya: Rating: 5, Verdict: Average
Hardik Pandya will play as India’s fifth bowling option in all probabilities and keeping that in mind, his performance wasn’t something that will inspire confidence in the team. He went for runs, didn’t look sharp enough to pick up a wicket and at times looked clueless. His half-century with the bat once again brought to light his ability to contribute lower down the order, but it is with the ball that Pandya has to hold his own on this tour. If he bowls the way he did in the warm-up match at Edgbaston, Virat Kohli should consider playing with five specialist bowlers.
Karun Nair: Rating: 0, Verdict: Poor
Tour games are the best chance for second rung players to stake a claim for a place in the starting XI and those chances are rare. Nair had an opportunity to show that he could replace Rahane in the XI if the later failed to get going but missed his opportunity.
Umesh Yadav: Rating: 8, Verdict: Very Good
Umesh Yadav looks fitter and hungrier and his four-wicket burst against Essex will give some respite to the management. Yadav will be expected to lead the Indian pace attack in the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah and he will have his task cut out. He has all the attributes needed to succeed in England, and just needs to find the right length and stick to it as soon as possible.
Ishant Sharma: Rating: 7, Verdict: Good
Ishant Sharma has more experience of playing the longer format than any other bowler and he has been on three tours of England prior to this one. His spell at Lord’s in 2014 gave India their only win of the series and the tall paceman will have to put his hand up this time around. He picked up three wickets in the warm-up match and showed the reserves the ability to keep coming back at the batsman that has become synonymous with him over the past two years. Needs to settle into a good rhythm soon to succeed.
Mohd Shami: Rating: 3, Verdict: Poor
A lot has happened in his life off the field and that seems to have taken a toll on the bowler. He is a moody bowler, unplayable when in form and outright mediocre when out of it. It was the second Shami on display at Chelmsford. He didn’t threaten, was wayward and lacked the bite needed to produce wickets. Kohli would hope Shami return to his groove sooner than later.
Shardul Thakur: Rating: 4, Verdict: Below Average
This will be a steep learning curve for the youngster. He leaked runs in the warm-up match and looked out of sorts. Thakur will not get a game in the series unless more fast bowlers get injured. He needs to absorb as much as he can to come back stronger if he gets a chance on the next Indian tours to the isles.
(The other players who turned out for India in the match were Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and R Ashwin. They didn’t have enough role to play in the match for them to be rated. Jadeja did bat for a while and did well for his contribution but he bowled only 2 overs and his major role in the team is that of a bowler. Rishabh Pant remained unbeaten for a quickfire 34, but not much can be derived from those performances)