Lack of practice hurting Indian batsmen: Sunil Gavaskar
Dinesh Karthik cleaned up by Sam Curran for 1 (Getty Images)

India’s recent performances with the bat has convinced former opener Sunil Gavaskar that lack of practice is the prime reason behind their struggle in England. In the three innings so far, India managed scores of 274 and 162 (at Edgbaston), which they lost by 31 runs, and were rolled over for 107 in the first innings at Lord’s.

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“The batsmen have to raise their hands and show not just grit and determination but also a semblance of technique. Their lack of red-ball practice and preparation is evident and the seaming conditions in the three innings so far haven’t helped,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for the Times of India.

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“It was a test not by fire but by ice because of the overcast conditions. The Indian batsmen seemed frozen and unable to move their feet. Having said that, it wouldn’t have been easy for any other team either as England have a top-class new-ball attack.

“No praise can be too high for Jimmy Anderson, who bowled splendidly. He utilised the typical English conditions and his late outswingers looked like fast leg-breaks, so much was the movement away from the right-handed batsmen. He was well supported by Chris Woakes, who too got the ball to move sharply away, and Sam Curran the left hander, who got the ball to move in the opposite direction towards the batsmen pads.”

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Gavaskar pointed out that despite going wicketless so far in the first innings, Kuldeep Yadav may still turn the game around for India in the fourth innings. England, in response to India’s 107, were restricted to 131/5, with the fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami creating problems for the batsmen, before an inspiring stand worth 189 runs between wicketkeeper batsman Jonny Bairstow (93) and allrounder Chris Woakes who scored his maiden Test century changed the complexion of the match. England ended the third day at 357/6, ahead of India by 250 runs.

“India included Kuldeep Yadav hoping that he will be able to create the web with which he had destroyed English batting in the limited overs. Kuldeep may yet do that in the second innings and take India to a win,” Gavaskar said.

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“The conditions were a lot easier when England came out to bat. The sun was out in all its glory and that lessened the chances of swing in the air for Indian bowlers. However, they kept the ball full and got it to seam off the pitch not as prodigiously as the England bowlers did, but just enough to cause problems.

“Big movement and huge turn looks good on TV, but all that it usually does is go past the bat safely. Cook got a beauty from Ishant while Shami bowled another terrific delivery to trap England captain Root in front of the stumps. Pandya bowled well within himself without going for the bouncer and looked a different bowler altogether. To be fair, the pitch helped a great deal in seam movement but Pandya, by keeping the ball up, kept causing problems for the batsmen.”