England series another “missed opportunity” for India: Sunil Gavaskar
The England series is India's second straight loss under Virat Kohli in Tests. (Getty Images)

Former captain Sunil Gavaskar has called the India-England series another “missed opportunity” for India, the No. 1-ranked Test side in the world. Gavaskar pointed out how Indian batsmen once again failed to replicate the success of their fast bowlers, resulting in a 60-run defeat at Southampton and a series loss.

With England showing frailties of their own, this was considered India’s best chance of winning a series in England, but another series loss means they’ve now gone 10 years without it. India last beat England in their country in 2007 when Rahul Dravid led the side to a 1-0 win in a three-Test series.

“It’s been a story of missed opportunities here in England too as India lost a chance of creating history by coming back from a 1-2 deficit and win the series. Like in South Africa, India’s bowlers put the opposition down only for the batsmen to mess it up. No praise can be too high of our seamers who have bowled their hearts out, “Gavaskar mentioned in his column for the Times of India on Thursday.

The pattern of India’s defeat at Southampton was a familiar one. Chasing 246, one of those iffy-looking targets, India seemed well placed at 123/3 with captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane looking set. But Kohli’s dismissal for 58 triggered a collapse and India were all out for 184.

Gavaskar highlighted how the lack of support for Kohli has been a detrimental factor behind yet another series loss for India.

“The shining exception on both tours has been the skipper Virat Kohli who has looked from a different planet altogether as he has made batting look like a walk in the park. Yes, even in a park, one comes across the odd rough patch and obstacle, but he has skirted round that with ease and with over 500 runs, has shown the doubters that he is by far the best in the world,” Gavaskar said.

“Unfortunately, he has had little support from the others and so, like in South Africa, the moment he is out, the rest of the batting collapses like the proverbial deck of cards. Sure, the ball has moved much more, but by stubbornly not playing practice games, the team has denied itself the chance of getting good match practice against the moving ball.”

What was surreal to see what that once again India did not have a solution to tackle Moeen Ali, who ended with match figures of 9/134, including 5/63 in the first innings. According to Gavaskar, India’s batsmen needed to use their feet better against the allrounder.

“Then, there was the ineptness against Moeen Ali which was harder to stomach especially as Indians are supposed to be good players of spin bowling. Where was the use of the feet to get to the pitch of the ball? Too much white ball cricket with its stand and hit method is ruining batting techniques,” he said.

As the attention shifts to the Oval, venue for the fifth and final Test of the series, India would be hoping to salvage some pride. England, on the other hand, would like to give Alastair Cook a triumphant farewell after the former captain announced his retirement on Monday.

“Oval provides a good pitch for the batsmen to salvage some pride, but it won’t be easy if the conditions remain overcast and as long as the bat speed is not curtailed, the struggles will continue,” Gavaskar, first Indian to score 10000 Test runs, said.

“The Oval Test will be the last Test for Alastair Cook who has had a tremendous career for England.”