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India produced a rare impressive performance overseas in the first Test at Trent Bridge against England. Abhijit Banare lists the positives for India and what they can take in to the second Test at Lord’s.
When India toured England last time in 2011, they crossed the 300-run mark just once in the entire four-Test series and they’ve crossed it twice in a single Test. This shows that India look well-prepared for the tough grind ahead. From the batting to quality seam bowling, India had many positives to look forward to below is a list:
1) Murali Vijay settled in to the opening role
He was under pressure due to a dry run in New Zealand. Batting overseas, India had taken a risk by keeping out Gautam Gambhir and going with two stroke-players in Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay. While Dhawan still has to pull up his game, Vijay showed great maturity in holding the Indian innings together. He showed the glimpses of responsibility in South Africa in his innings of 96. But this one reaffirmed his value at the top. After seeing out the threat of James Anderson and Stuart Broad with new ball, Vijay presented gracious drives, flicks and neatly guided shots to third-man on his way to his first Test ton overseas. He followed it up with a half-century which shows his hunger to remain consistent.
Stat: Murali Vijay is the 11th Indian to score a ton in first Test of a series in England
Stat: This is also the first time where three fifties were scored by players from No 8 to No 11.
2) Lower-order batting
The best outcome for India in this match. It would be demeaning to say that the tail wagged because the innings by the batsmen down the order looked as compact and settled as the ones at top. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a reliable batsman with a First Class average of 30.82. The abilities finally reflected at Trent Bridge as he steered the Indian innings to safety on both occasions. Meanwhile, Mohammed Shami too showed his skill and Ishant Sharma has the ability to hang around. It’s a positive sign if India happen to find themselves in a similar stiff position ahead.
Stat: Bhuvneshwar is the first to score two fifties and pick a five-for at No 9 in Tests.
3) Bowling not as bad as it was made to look
Everyone had the same concern. How much England’s batting can pummel Indian pacers? But Ishant, Shami and Bhuvneshwar were on target. Ishant in particular was more disciplined getting bounce off the deck. Known for being wayward, Ishant has come a long way in terms of handling responsibility in the last three Tests. If he continues to do so, we would have finally discovered the value which Ishant was supposed to offer all this while. That spell post lunch on Day Three was something he would be proud of. Meanwhile, Bhuvneshwar is slowly coming out of the ‘swing bowler’ zone. Playing his first overseas Test on a deck which had little assistance, he was forced to use different angles to outplay the batsmen. The five-for gives him the much-needed confidence after lack of pace was cited as a possible reason for his ineffectiveness.
Stat: This was India’s third Test where 350+ scores have come in a Test. Does indicate that things have started off well with the bat for India.
4) Stuart Binny and Ravindra Jadeja
Binny’s selection for the Lord’s Test was uncertain. But he forced his way in to the XI with a match-saving effort of 78 from 114 balls. The 281st debutant got little opportunity to make a difference in the match being ignored with the ball by the skipper. It came down to the last day and Binny’s composed innings made the difference.
Not to miss the contribution by Jadeja, the fact that he played the longest innings of his Test career so far gives a hint that he has realised what is needed of the situation. Nevertheless that doesn’t make up for charging down the wicket to Anderson when the ball is seaming. Once he was off the mark facing 38 deliveries, Jadeja looked settled and left the away going deliveries well.
From a team perspective, Binny and Jadeja have given lot of assurance for the management to continue with the same line-up. The only positive dilemma is the possible inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Areas of concern:
Much of India’s great efforts could come across as misleading if they can’t continue with the same intensity ahead. Manchester, Ageas Bowl will offer a seaming wicket and even the other two decks won’t be as dead as the one at Trent Bridge. Batting won’t be as easy as it was here, and those with the technique to survive it (Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli) will have a bigger role to play. It would be naive to except the lower order to repeat the same performance with the bat on seaming wickets.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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