'When there came a real test, the famed batting line-up faltered': Former keeper addresses India's 'big question mark'
"Unfortunately, when there came a real Test in extreme conditions, the famed batting line-up faltered," said former wicketkeeper Saba Karim after India's loss in the World Test Championship final.
While India have been coming close but missing out on ICC titles, a familiar pattern can be attributed to it. Think of the last three ICC knockout matches India have been in – the Champions Trophy final in 2017, the 2019 World Cup in 2019 and the final of the World Test Championship. What do you find common? It is the bowling, the toss, the selection? No, the common link to all three defeats is woeful batting.
In the Champions Trophy, chasing 339 to win, India were reduced to 33/3. Although 339 was never going to be easy to chase down, the fact that their top three – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were back having combined for 26 runs was a big blow up-front. Two years later at the 2019 WC semi-final, India, in chase of 240, were 5/3 with KL Rahul, Rohit and Kohli back for 1 each.
Also Read | BCCI to recommend Mithali Raj, R Ashwin for Khel Ratna; Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah for Arjuna: Report
And now, come the WTC final, a similar pattern was witnessed. With India ending Day 5 on 64/2, having to bat out the final day to eke out a draw, the team was wrecked and bowled out for 170, losing the final eight wickets for 106 runs. Once again, it was the batting on the all-important day that let the team down, and addressing the same, former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim has highlighted how India's batting failure in testing conditions eluded them of yet another ICC title.
"This is hugely disappointing for Virat Kohli because he puts Test matches right at the top and he’s worked very hard along with his side to put India in this position where he could have won this – the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship. It's a despair not only for him but for the entire side. But I do feel that the big question mark is about India's ability to bat in these conditions," Karim said on Cricket.com.
Also Read | 'The sun was out and even the grass did not exist': Gavaskar explains what India were 'lacking' on Day 6 of WTC final
In a battle between India's star-studded batting line-up and New Zealand's fast bowlers, it was the BlackCaps bowling that ended up with bragging rights, feels Karim.
"This was the battle between New Zealand’s frontline pacers vs India’s famed batting line up. Unfortunately, when there came a real Test in extreme conditions, the famed batting line-up faltered and it was the front-line bowling attack, the four-pronged pace-bowling attack that came up on trumps," he pointed out.