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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Why should Team India be worried after England’s audacious run chase in all three Tests against New Zealand?

Having entered his 90s in his first Test, Jamie Overton only looked terrified. He eventually fell for 97, took a bear hug from Jonny Bairstow and Headingley stood out from the crowd. The newcomer was allowed to panic as he neared the moment of his cricketing life. However, 97 percent of his innings had the courage that ‘bazzball’ demands.

To explain The Beatles, Brendan ‘Baz’ McCullum took a sad song and improved it very quickly.

It has been a month of June for the England cricket team and its band of long-suffering supporters. Coming into the three-Test series with one win in his last 17 attempts, one could argue that was the only way left. And up they went of course, in the space of a few weeks as soon as the new system got to work. Chasing a fourth-innings target between 275 and 300 is a tough question in Test cricket, but the hosts devoured them in a way that many white-ball teams would be proud of. This was in stark contrast to the monotonous and monotonous style prevalent earlier.

England Test Team England captain Ben Stokes holds the winner’s trophy as he poses with his teammates after their victory on the fifth day of the third cricket Test match against New Zealand at Headingley in Leeds, England, Monday, June 27, 2022. ( Associated Press Photo/Rui Vieira)

The mantra sounds ‘from feet to the floor’, even in the most difficult of situations, as the following examples will show.

Exhibit 1: A year ago at Lord’s, New Zealand declared their second innings and set England a target of 273 in 75 overs on the final day. The hosts, with captain Joe Root and head coach Chris Silverwood, instead opted to play to a boring draw.

England’s fourth innings target against New Zealand at Trent Bridge was 299 runs in 72 overs on the final day of the second Test. Along with Ben Stokes and McCullum, they won by five wickets in 50 overs as Bairstow got in the ‘zone’.

Exhibit 2: In the third Test at Headingley, England’s top order was at sea against Trent Boult’s swing-bowling masterclass. The left-arm pacer’s first spell shook any top-order and the hosts were reduced to 17/3 and then 21/4 when Tim Southee removed Root beautifully.

Bairstow and Stokes hit back at the New Zealand pacers and even though the England captain succumbed to trying to force the pace, his team did not give up on their attacking intent. At 55/6, Overton paired up with Bairstow and then shared a 241 run partnership off just 274 balls. It was exhilarating cricket. And let’s forget Bairstow’s back-to-back centuries, which were scored with a seemingly devil-may-care attitude, when a debutant can play in such a fearless manner under pressure, he’s a team A positive culture is the epitome of change.

This resulted in a 3–0 elimination of the World Test champions as England chased down 296 runs in 55 overs in a display of supreme confidence and gung-ho aggression.

difficult task

India will take on New England at Edgbaston from Friday. This England team is not out in a season; Do not back down in the face of the aggression of the opponents. And India will take their problems with them in the pending fifth Test of the series which began last year and stood 2-1 in favor of the tourists when it faced a Covid-forced postponement.

Virat Kohli has not scored an international century for two and a half years now, with his average in Tests exceeding 30 during this period. For the first time in nearly five years, his career average has dropped below 50. Last year, when India toured England, Kohli was the undisputed leader of the team across all formats. A lot has changed since then.

Virat Kohli During the practice match, Virat Kohli played a brilliant innings of 67 runs in 98 balls. (Twitter/BCCI)

England also have a new captain in Stokes, but his predecessor Root hasn’t lost his run-scoring mojo. 1 Test batsman in the world with a match-winning century in the first Test at Lord’s, followed by another world-class offering at Trent Bridge. The Yorkshiremen then chased down the fourth innings as Bairstow went fearless again to register a seven-wicket win at their home ground.

Presenting the fifth Test as Kohli vs Root is risky, as the latter is operating on a different run-scoring stratosphere, while Kohli, 33, is heading towards the twilight zone until the second wind blows.

Captain Rohit Sharma has contracted Kovid and may miss the Test. And more than the captaincy issue – Jasprit Bumrah is likely to stand – it creates a serious batting void. Rohit was immense for India in England last year and although he had a poor IPL, he is the team’s batting royalty along with Kohli. Also, now India have lost both the openers of their first choice. Shubman Gill is a very good replacement for KL Rahul, but Rohit’s absence could have an adverse effect even if Mayank Agarwal is called in as cover.

Cheteshwar Pujara has returned to Test cricket for Sussex, scoring 720 runs in eight innings, including four centuries. But he will take a tough stand nonetheless, knowing that failure at Edgbaston may be a veil for him. And no one knows who will be Rishabh Pant. His greatness is the wealth of India. But at times Pant can also mess up.

Bowling has not been India’s problem. Bumrah and company are guaranteed performers irrespective of the conditions. But the team’s batting, especially the middle order when Kohli is not in form, doesn’t inspire confidence. Batting failures have given India a tough winter series in South Africa and this time in England.

    Joe Root Joe Root of England plays a shot during the fifth day of the third cricket Test match between England and New Zealand at Headingley in Leeds, England, Monday, June 27, 2022. ( Associated Press photo/Rui Vieira)

Change

Last year, England looked defeated, a batting line-up threatened by Bumrah, and when they went down to the Ashes, they were battered by Pat Cummins’ troops. England has risen from the ashes under the leadership of the country’s men’s cricket team’s managing director Rob Key, who pulled McCullum out of the IPL to hand him over the reins of the Test team. Stokes’ taking over from Root was a formality and it freed the former captain.

England will take confidence from the series win against the Kiwis at Edgbaston. Their bowlers are in form and James Anderson will be refreshed after resting comfortably in the third Test. Their batsmen rejoice in their newfound resolve and venture, though it remains to be seen whether the gospel of an all-round attack works against the Indians.

England is in the middle of its Test season. India has less time to play the red ball. The tagline of the Indian broadcaster ‘Ab hogi puri dhulai (time is already)’ seems a bit over the top.

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