If you are shocked at the disastrous run of the Indian team in the ongoing test series in England where India have lost both the games at Edgbaston and Lords respectively, don’t be. There is nothing new in what has happened in these two tests which hasn’t unfolded in the foreign tours of India in the last year as well. From the 2017-18 tour of South Africa, the test series of which India lost 2-1, to these two tests the Indian batsmen have failed to perform. Of the 7 specialist batsmen India has in its team, only Virat Kohli has been able to deliver at an average of more than 20, of the rest from Shikhar Dhawan to KL Rahul none have averaged above 20. This converts to the sorry scorecard which India posted in each match; in the last 10 innings that India has played they have managed to cross 300 just once. Pinpointing the blame is never easy but it is high time that Virat Kohli should be ready to face the heat for the discouraging performance shown by his cherry picked team.
Tests are the purest form of the game, a team’s strength, weaknesses, composition and mindset are tested to the core in this format, thereby the name. While Virat Kohli has shown flickers of greatness in the games in England, it has also come to light that he lacks the brilliance needed to guide the team from the front. All the tall claims and the overtly aggressive behaviour which the Indian team led by Virat Kohli displays on the field is not being supported by their on-field performance, where it matters the most. Virat will have to review his performance as a captain. It is true that his credentials as a batsman cannot be doubted but he is proving to be too lax in his approach to the team as a whole. Ravindra Jadeja who is yet to score a 100 in the Test or any other international format surprisingly makes the cut for the England squad. The match at Edgbaston where India had played with 3 fast bowlers turned out to be a close contest. Why then did they chose to add Kuldeep Yadav at the expense of the Umesh Yadav, who is the fastest of the lot is a question which nobody has an answer to. Similarly, why is Ravindra Jadeja even in the squad for the test team is surprising considering he has failed to perform with the bat and ball outside India in the test format.
Kohli has a lot to think about with the third test at Nottingham fast approaching and he has nobody but himself to blame right now. His spat with the ex-coach Anil Kumble led to a phase in Indian cricket where the captain got a say in deciding the coach. Ravi Shastri, along with Virat Kohli will have to answer questions and some big ones at that. The batsmen who have prided themselves with their performance in T20s and ODIs appear to be at a complete loss when the English bowlers have asked questions with their swinging deliveries. With three more matches to go, Virat needs to set his head straight or maybe the BCCI needs to intervene in this regard and take some strict decisions. A senior BCCI official has already stated that the fault this time lies with the captain and coach, “The Indian team can’t complain that they were not given enough time to prepare. When we lost the South Africa series, the players spoke about tight scheduling and lack of practice games. It was after speaking to them that we decided that white ball matches will be held before the Tests.”
At a time when Kohli is struggling in England, one cannot help but remember the times when Sourav Ganguly had the captaincy in his hands and in similar conditions. He handpicked individuals and created a cohesive, combative team. A team which promised and delivered or at least gave a fighting chance both inside and outside India. That perseverance is what the Indian team lacks today, and it shows in their performance on the field. Instead, perseverance is replaced by misplaced aggression and arrogance without the backing of performance it so dearly needs.
There are no doubts about Virat’s abilities as a run scorer but he is failing big time in his role as a captain and that is for all to see. The unlimited powers which he has access to right now seem to have taken his focus away from his job of picking up and managing his team well. A closely fought match would have been considered honourable at least, but these performances are nothing short of a clear surrender. Coach and captain need to put their head together and find out a solution to this problem or else more disappointments would be waiting for them when they return to India.