India vs England 2018: What did Virat Kohli’s India gain from drawn Essex tour match?

India’s only practice match before the Test series against England starting August 1 in Birmingham has come to a close, with the three-day fixture with Essex at Chelmsford ending in an expected draw. Such matches are rarely won by the hosts or the visiting team, and for practical purposes serve as acclimatisation for the latter.

In the case of the Indian team led by Virat Kohli, there were several gainers and losers at the end of the tour match with defending County Championship winners Essex. Here’s are the talking points.

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Dhawan on the back foot

It looks unlikely that Shikhar Dhawan  will partner Murali Vijay at the top of India’s innings now that he’s bagged a pair at Chelmsford. Lasting just four deliveries is in no way ideal preparation face up to James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and his place looks set to go to KL Rahul who batted at No 6 but made a pleasing 58.

READ: India vs Essex, Day 3: As it happened

Umesh to the fore

In the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, it looks as if Umesh Yadav has done enough to ensure he starts the first Test after taking 4/35 in 18 overs. Umesh had returned to India’s Test XI against Afghanistan last month after sitting out all three matches in South Africa, on account of Mohammed Shami  failing the mandatory yo-yo test. When Shami was passed fit and named in India’s squad, Umesh would have possibly felt like he would warm the bench again. But with Shami going wicketless across 21 overs that cost 68, Umesh looks like the man to get the nod ahead of Shami Birmingham.

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Pujara’s failure raises more doubt

With questions being asked about his current batting abilities after a lean run in county cricket for Yorkshire – he averaged 14.33 in six four-day matches – and a poor Test average in England (22.20), Cheteshwar Pujara did himself no favours by making 1 and 23 at Chelmsford. However, given the fact that Dhawan bagged a pair, it looks like Pujara will slot in at No 3 with Rahul the likely opening partner to Murali Vijay at Edgbaston. That said, his form in red-ball cricket leaves a lot to be desired.

The big gainer

Dinesh Karthik walked off unbeaten on 82 at the end of the first day, and though he was out to the first ball he faced on the second morning, that too cutting to third man, he will be a very pleased man. His 82 was the highest score of India’s innings versus Essex, which should have removed any question of the man with the x-factor, Rishabh Pant, getting a look-in at Edgbaston.

No clarity on spin

Regarding the bowling, it appears that the plan was to give the pace bowlers the maximum exposure. In Essex’s innings of 359/8, a total of 83 overs were bowled by Shami, Umesh, Ishant Sharna, Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur. The spinners, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and R Ashwin, bowled 11 overs.

Jadeja’s two overs cost 17, Kuldeep’s four went for 24 and Ashwin, who left the field in the second evening, had figures of 5-1-21-0. The conditions were not conducive to spin, but even then the lesser amount of overs given to the three specialists will have raised eyebrows.