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India and England resume their rivalry at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Sunday with the tourists 1-0 ahead in the five-match Test series. Devarchit Varma opines that India cannot afford to take the foot off the gas pedal as this is a very crucial stage that they have set for themselves in international cricket.
Not often in Test cricket, Indian cricket team finds itself ahead of their opposition overseas. But this side under Mahendra Singh Dhoni seems to be making all the right moves when it comes to setting their priorities right, as they finally tasted success overseas after a gap of more than three years when they slammed England by a margin of 95 runs in the second Test match at the Home of cricket, Lord’s.
India’s fortunes in Test cricket weren’t as bright as they were couple of seasons ago, as the year 2011 marked the beginning of decline of their Test side. The likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and few more, considered as the flag bearers of the Indian cricket faded away and Indian cricket witnessed new lows. But the influx of the likes of the Pujaras, the Kohlis and discovering new sets of young fast bowlers have helped India address their slump sooner than what some fathomed.
An overseas Test victory was always going to be hard work for the Indians, as they do not have any single player in the camp (barring MS Dhoni, who many do not rate as a good Test player) with enormous experience and knowledge, who can guide them through tough times. Resultantly, the journey wasn’t a comfortable one for the young side as well. They went down fighting in South Africa and New Zealand, and it is now in England that the combined factors of their hard work and the opposition being nowhere close to its potential, they have broken the barrier.
Taking nothing away from this Indian side for their win at Lord’s, they need to look ahead now. The young side under Dhoni has set a perfect stage for itself to flourish. The likes of Pujaras, Rahanes, Kohlis, Kumars and Sharmas are here to stay and this win at Lord’s would give a huge boost to their self belief that they can win Test matches overseas, if they play to their potential.
This is a perfect stage because England are nowhere close to the force that they used to be, and they have far too many things to address in order to get their game forward. Their captain Alastair Cook is in stage of ‘self-doubt’ and their bowlers haven’t excelled in the known conditions at home. This is where India, high on confidence along with their batsmen scoring runs and bowlers capable of taking 20 wickets, need to push further and ensure they give absolutely no room for England to bounce back and make it even.
By the look of it, a series win in England is not a monumental task at the moment for India. String of losses has knocked down England on the floor and they have far too many issues to settle and get their act right. They haven’t won a Test match in their last 10 games and are not in the right shape to make a comeback in near future. But for India, if they win here, they can carry the confidence all the way to Australia, where they will be facing a well-functioning machinery in form of the Australian pace attack.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)
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