The Great English Series and More…..

What a fantastic series and what an awkward end to it. Still, we don’t know the proper result of the series, but if BRAIN is anything to go by we have already conquered the English fort. Here we also have our squad ready for the T20WC and post which Skipper Virat Kohli won’t be leading the team anymore in the shortest format. So, we will talk about the matches, the series, the unfortunate end, the captaincy split and of course a little about the upcoming T20 World Cup. This article won’t be having a conclusion as it is dealing with just too many topics altogether. Oh come on guys, tighten your seatbelts, there are so many things to talk and we are onto a mega cricketing ride.

Virat Kohli's India will play how they play, we will not get drawn into anything that's not honest: Joe Root | Sports News,The Indian Express

Rain spoils India’s winning start

Though Mayank Agarwal was being considered as almost the Sureshot partner with ROHIT after Shubhman got injured, Mayank himself getting injured during practise paved the way for the comeback of RAHUL back at the top. England came in to bat after India lost the toss and Indian pacers were right on a charge from the very beginning which left English batters trembling and struggling. After England was wrapped up at 183 India too seemed in trouble after a decent start. On the VIRAT v ANDERSON front, the latter made sure that the battle stops being as one-sided as it has been in the past couple of matches and got the better of our skipper on his very first ball. Here, RAHUL stood tall and along with JADEJA and some valuable contributions from tail took India to a handy 95 run lead. Now, in the second innings, English captain JOE ROOT took the command and with a brilliant hundred took his team to 303 and set India a competitive target of 209. India came into bat and despite losing RAHUL at 28, looked quite comfortable at 52-1 at the time the day ended. Now, what was deemed to be a cracker of the final day of the test was completely washed away with rain. India clearly felt a great winning opportunity slipping out of their hands, but still, we didn’t ask for a forfeit. Besides RAHUL, BUMRAH also was at his unplayable best and his return to form with nine scalps was a huge boost for Indian bowling.

Joe Root's India connection: After debut and 50th Test, England captain set for major milestone in Chennai - Sports News

We are the LORDS…..Again

India came in to bat and the in-form openers took India to a flying start with a 100+ run opening stand. While ROHIT (83) missed his century, RAHUL made sure that he makes a fine hundred on the first-day wicket. Unfortunately, after these two, India went through a huge collapse and what should have been something close to 500, ended up being just 364, though it was still decent enough. Now, England was riding high on confidence and led by another Daddy Hundred by JOE ROOT who was unbeaten till the very end, as well as from other valuable support, England took a crucial lead of 27 runs. Now, when India came into bat, things didn’t seem very nice. After both the openers, VIRAT too went early and India was left ‘effectively’ struggling at 27-3 and it seemed the end of the road for the team. But, the thing with this team is that whenever you write them off, they come up with one innovative method after the other to prove you wrong. This time, our two old guards PUJARA and RAHANE took the charge, though they struggled but still were quite good enough and at the end of the day India had lost them both and was at 150 odd for five wickets. Well, India was still in trouble as all hopes lied on PANT to take INDIA at least past 200 and set a respectable target. But, things went the other way when PANT got out early the next morning.

India vs England 2021: Handed a Lifeline, KL Rahul Makes it Count

Because…after that what we witnessed was nothing less than a rollercoaster ride. SHAMI and BUMRAH, our two prime bowlers took it on upon themselves and facing all the sledges, racial slurs as well as some serious bowling took India to 298-8, which meant effectively a target of 271 for England that too in just 60 overs. Shami who loves batting reached his fifty with a huge six and that actually showed the fearless mindset of the team. Here, VIRAT KOHLI displayed great tactics and instead of declaring right after tea, he declared after 10 balls being bowled in the third session, which left the English batsmen surprised and unprepared. The tactic was proved right when both the openers were gone without scoring. Any further twist in the game was ignored when BUMRAH got the better of ROOT with a superb delivery. Though, at last, BUTLER showed some resilience and it seemed if India was late on the declaration, but SIRAJ who picked up 8 wickets in the match made sure that England is wrapped up at 120 well within 52 overs and India go 1-0 up winning its third victory at the LORDS. This would easily go down as another great win for India overseas. Here, VIRAT needs a special mention, not just because he was superb with his bowling changes and field placements but also leading a team to such victories as a leader when you are not at your prime form is a huge job. Also, I would like to say that the racial slurs that were made onto our players were completely unacceptable especially when it came from someone as senior as Anderson.

Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami show the value of high morale | Sport | The Times

England pose a Crushing Comeback

England was angry as hell and came roaring into the match. India won the toss and chose to bat. But contrarily, India was struggling and struggling very badly. There was only one double-digit score as India was wrapped up at 78. Now, when your team is out for such a low score the confidence of bowlers go down as well, and it was clearly visible as England were without loss at over 100 when the day ended. The next day, bowlers were picking wickets but JOE ROOT’s another 100 followed by several other fifties made sure that England get an unassailable lead of 354 as they ended up at 432. Now, Indian batsmen had some job to do. They started well with ROHIT scoring a gritty enough fifty followed by a fine 91 by PUJARA. VIRAT too returned in form with a fifty. But, after they got out, others were able to do little as India was all out at 278 and lost the match by an innings and 76 runs. Here, ROBINSON from the English side was in some serious bowling form. Interestingly, it was just the second match under VIRAT that India lost by an innings and where India lost after winning the toss. Also, it was the first time that India lost the THIRD match of a series under him. The series was levelled and awaiting another twist in the tale.

The eight times India posted a lower Test total than 78 all out | The Independent

INDIA repeat the 50-Year-old History

England won the toss here and invited India to bat. The decision proved upright as India was struggling at 127-7 despite VIRAT’s fifty. But from that point, we saw some KAPIL DEV kind of stuff as LORD SHARDUL THAKUR smashed a 36 ball 57 and took India to 191. Here, one needs to mention that VIRAT worked on his footwork and position intensively as compared to the previous matches and that was very visible in his more stable and consistent batting. In bowling, India seemed right on target from the beginning as England were 53-3 by the end of the play. On Day 2, England was reduced to 62-5, but just when the game started getting one-sided the wicket started getting flat way too unexpectedly. Ollie Pope led the English batting with a fine 81 and a further fifty by WOAKES ensured that England get some serious lead of 99 runs. Now, as the wicket was flat India used this opportunity to the best of its use. The openers gave us a flying start and ROHIT went on to score a big hundred and his first overseas as well. Contributions also came from VIRAT, PUJARA, PANT and of course from LORD SHARDUL once again.

India vs England: Shardul Thakur Scores Fifty Again; Fans Back 'Lord Shardul' Over Hardik Pandya

India displayed one of its very best overseas batting in recent times and its score of 466 meant that England had 367 as the target. On the other hand, wickets being flat meant that the job was not at all easy for the bowlers and England staying at no loss overnight strengthened the claim. Nasser Hussain said that the coming day would be the REAL Test of KOHLI’s captaincy. Kohli be like “Hold my beer” and the test was passed by flying colours I guess. In the morning India got a breakthrough and a runout, but still, the match seemed very well heading for a draw. Post lunch, India entered the field with a new infused energy as JADEJA and BUMRAH took the charge and in one single session India cleaned up 6 big wickets including the spearhead ROOT. BUMRAH’s spell was the game-changer of the match. India took little time after Tea to take the remaining wickets and repeat what was done 50 years ago at the same ground by AJIT WADEKAR’s team. So, as soon as ANDERSON nicked one off UMESH to PANT, India was very well leading the series at 2-1 and was at an invincible position awaiting the perfect climactic ending. UMESH needs a special mention as he played a match after very long but was right on point straightaway.

August 24, 1971: India Register First Test Win in England at The Oval

COVID Viruses off the Fifth Test

Unfortunately, what should well have been a climactic end of a closely fought series, eventually ended in cancellation, as after the coaching staff the Indian physio too came out positive. Now, it’s known that a physio stays in such close contact with the players, so the players getting worried for their families was very much understandable. The tense players didn’t even sleep the night before the match and called SOURAV GANGULY straightaway expressing their call of not taking the field for precautional reasons. Now, should we penalise someone for worrying about their health and their families? Though ECB initially came out with the statement that India has ‘forfeited’ the match but later changed it. So practically the series still hangs in disdain with a cloud of uncertainty doing rounds over the result. Now, it is to be seen whether India plays a one-off test next year. continue this series only or compensate it with 2 more T20Is (India will tour ENG for 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is). I personally think the third option is the best, why would the test team travel all the way just for one match?

England must be thinking 'we should have not messed with Jasprit Bumrah' in Lord's Test: Zaheer Khan - Sports News

Now, regarding the debate doing rounds. First of all, one needs to remember that we are still living in a pandemic world taking a call over safety is not a crime. Will someone question the cancellation of the match, if a war is opened? This pandemic is no less than that for sure. Many series and matches were cancelled due to COVID cases and England is forgetting that it itself cancelled the ODI series in South Africa after COVID cases came from the team. Shouldn’t they too have forfeited the series 0-3 in favour of South Africa back then? And regarding IPL, I would simply ask … Wasn’t the IPL schedule well there at the place before the start of the series? Did we suddenly come up with it as an escape plan? And England is again forgetting that they too have played the HUNDRED a month back. India was in England only, for the whole of July, if the series would have started then it would have well been over before any COVID. So, England can’t just get away imposing its whole accountability of LOSING the series on India playing the IPL. Someone should remind them that their colonial rule ended some 75 years back.

India in England: Rohit Sharma hits his 1st Test hundred on foreign soil, completes 3,000 runs in longest format - Sports News

A Cricketing Look at this Memorable Series

India had the best chance against England this time. As we know, England was already missing the services of its two premium players BEN STOKES and JOFRA ARCHER (I didn’t name BROAD because I don’t count him that big a player…he is struggling even at home from past few matches). But, one more point which was tilting the chances towards India was the fact that this particular set of players had already toured England once, so the experience was also an added point by our side. Our bowling was right on track even the last time, but what has actually made the difference was our batting and our Opening to be precise (it won’t be an exaggeration to say that we have the most settled openers in the world currently). ROHIT is definitely at the peak of his career and RAHUL too has shown why he is such a gifted talent. Also, if we observe properly, we have even improved on removing the TAIL to quite an extent if not fully. Ashwin’s exclusion was unfortunate but it can only happen in our Indian Team that so much talent resides in one place that even the world’s best spinner has to be dropped at times. VIRAT KOHLI didn’t have that good a series as a batsman, but he was a double engine train as a Captain this time. One of the biggest highlights of the series was one bounce back after the other from both sides, which made this series a perfect treat for cricket lovers. But on a serious note, we need some changes in the test batting middle order as it has been struggling for quite a while now. I respect the services of our old guards, but we need to give chances to young talents like SKY, VIHARI and slowly settle them into the group avoiding an overhaul. And yes, despite some late semi-exploits VIRAT too needs a serious comeback by his own standards. Ending it by highlighting a great pattern; India has continued its streak of losing 3 series and then winning one series in England since 1952. Though it should be broken next time and there is nothing to be proud of…HA HA.

Wisden on Twitter: "We may not have got the series finale we all wanted to see, but the #ENGvIND Test series has still provided some incredible cricket! Pick up this commemorative poster

A Confusing Team Selection for the T20WC

Now, right before the cancellation of the fifth test, our squad for the upcoming T20WC later this year has been announced. Now, to be very frank I am not at all satisfied with the team that has been selected. Now, what defines the selection of rookies like RAHUL CHAHAR and VARUN CHAKRAVARTHY who have almost zero international exposure especially against any quality side. And even the selector wouldn’t be knowing what the hell AXAR PATEL is doing in the team when he can NEVER play in the presence of JADEJA (he could have been kept in reserve as cover). We are going with just 3 pacers and anyone of them having a niggle in the morning will mean India will be forced to go with 3 spinners even if the pitch is as flat as a road. We are expecting pitches to be too tired after IPL, which I am sure will not be the case. And…by the way, ‘faster spinner’ can’t justify the omission of our leading spinner in the format…CHAHAL. DHONI’s appointment as the mentor is a good decision and his experience and tactics will surely be of our help at the tournament (there is a flip side as well which I will talk about in a while).

India T20 World Cup Squad 2021, Schedule, Date, Time, And Venue - CricketAddictor

But, we also need to accept that Batting looks like a powerhouse. KISHAN has been a smart choice and it was a little unfortunate for IYER. HARDIK is the most crucial player in this setup and our team’s fortune will revolve more or less around him only. Also, we don’t have any backup for him (neither was there any option for that). I also found ASHWIN’s selection a very clever choice as he is much more experienced than many in the team and If aptly used can be a godamn game changer for us. ROHIT and RAHUL would be my openers followed by VIRAT, SKY, PANT, HARDIK and JADEJA. BHUVI and BUMRAH would be surely in the team and other bowlers would depend on the opposition team’s composition and pitch condition. We could have saved ourselves from going just on the basis of some exciting words like ‘Mystery Spinner’ like we did in 2019 with a ‘3D’ player. Nothing personal against the spinners, but just that they need more experience and exposure to represent at this level. Anyways, differences aside, I hope we field the best possible XI and bring out the best from whatever we have selected throughout the tournament…All the Best Team India…!!!!!

VIRAT steps down as the T20I Captain

Just when it looked that the equation between VIRAT and ROHIT have bettered and the captaincy debate can rest, just then Virat announced his decision of stepping down as the T20I skipper. Interestingly news broke 2 days back about Virat leaving the limited-overs captaincy, which was refuted by BCCI initially. So, Virat will be stepping down after the tournament which was a good decision or else it might have created uncertainty just before a big tournament. But, the decision signifies two things; firstly Virat wants to focus more on his batting which has seriously dipped from the last 2 years. Secondly, there was pressure on him regarding winning the tournaments and if India would have failed to win the T20WC this year, captaincy change would anyways have happened from the BCCI’s end. Thirdly, it may sound controversial but it is clearly visible looking at the squad that ROHIT’s choices have been favoured more, so VIRAT was also feeling a bit insecure and less valuable. Dhoni’s appointment as a mentor too goes on to prove that the board does not hold confidence in the captain. But one more point to be highlighted here is that Virat has just left the T20I captaincy and is still interested in leading the team in ODIs. But, a team can’t have two captains in ODIs and T20Is. Mainly because teams are almost similar in both formats and two different approaches would hurt the team’s environment.

IPL 2021: RCB Virat Kohli steps down as T20 captain, MI Rohit to takeover

So I think either Virat will have to leave the ODI captaincy as well or BCCI itself would announce the new skipper of both ODIs and T20Is together. Now, there should be little doubt that the next captain should be ROHIT SHARMA and I am very hopeful under him. For vice-captain, the debate is between KL RAHUL, BUMRAH and PANT. Though I personally adore RAHUL a lot, I think PANT would be a better choice due to his young mind and learning opportunities. BUMRAH being our top bowler will anyways be a crucial part of the leadership group especially for bowling aspects. Regarding IPL I don’t find any point in him leaving the RCB captaincy, because a league should not have any role more than entertainment and scouting talents. Also, DHONI has been the CSK Captain even after leaving captaincy and now after retirement also. As far as the whole team is concerned, I don’t think there will be any change in the team’s fortunes. We are currently in the ‘ASHWAMEDHA YAGYA’ stage and I don’t think anything stopping that. Yes, for VIRAT I really think this should liberate his mind and INSHALLAH we will see the same vintage VIRAT back on top of the ranks across all three formats. Also, we should remember that the real legacy of VIRAT lies and will lie (whenever history is written) in building a test side that dominated big teams in their own backyard and in fostering a never-give-up, aggressive and fearless sporting culture. Now, finally, let’s hope that his white-ball captaincy too ends on a high and positive note at the coming T20WC.


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