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12 February, 2021

Cricket: Team India Dealing With 5 Causes, 4 Not In Their Control On Eve Of Second Test - IndvEng



Former England captain Michael Vaughan says India cannot afford to end up 2-0 down going into the day-night pink ball 3rd Test in Ahmedabad.

England's current Test captain Joe Root says there's no reason why his side cannot continue the winning streak after their 227-run first Test win over India few days ago.

What could coach Ravi Shastri, skipper Virat Kohli and you the fan be thinking about Team India's prospects on the eve of the second Test of this 4-Test series?

India have been pushed to No. 4 from top of the World Test Championship table as a result of the first Test loss.

Their No. 1 position now taken over by nemesis Joe Root-led England. 

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Here are the 5 causes India will have to deal with and focus on winning the second Test with their skill, backed by positive character, intent and attitude:

1. Loss of Ravindra Jadeja's bowling prowess: The absence of the 'Rockstar' from Jamnagar is hurting India. His profile summary on ESPN Cricinfo starts with "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

This left-handed allrounder, who rose up the ranks playing under captain Kohli in the Under-19 World Cup winning side from 2008, played critical match saving and winning roles in Melbourne and Sydney before missing the Brisbane Test owing to a broken left thumb. 

If Team India felt his absence deeply during the first Test, they'll have to look ahead and back Axar Patel who has been drafted in as a prospect who'll perform Jadeja's allround role. 

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2. Will toss play a big role in India's chance of a win? Not long ago coach Shastri cast the toss factor aside saying he had a world beating team that can play purely on their skill and win without letting the result of the toss affect their performance.

The first Test loss in Chennai may have made Shastri change his mind as India felt England -- who won the toss and batted first -- ran away with the advantage by exploiting the placid status of the pitch during the first two days of the Test.

Apart from Jadeja's absence, the toss is another factor beyond India's control.

How well do Shastri and Kohli inspire their team to bounce back in the second Test will be known by the way India's players approach the game on the first day of the second Test.

The toss did not affect an inexperienced India team defeat Australia 2-1 away in the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar trophy Test series.

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3. What's the pitch got to do with a win? The status of a pitch before a Test match is another hotly researched, discussed, dissected topic.

Coaches, respective team captains and key bowlers observe the pitch on the eve of a Test match to assess the way it'll likely play.

However, a little over a year ago, Shastri overjoyed by his belligerent team's 3-0 trouncing of South Africa, exclaimed: "Bhaad me gaya pitch [to hell with the pitch].

“We need to take 20 wickets and it doesn’t matter if it’s Mumbai, Auckland, Melbourne, anywhere. Once we have taken those 20 wickets, our batting, once it gets going it’s like a smooth-running Ferrari." 

These quotes are available on video in the public domain although in print they are ascribed as a tongue in cheek comment by India's coach. 

Whichever way you look at it, India managed to take 20 England wickets but their batsmen failed to get going like a smooth-running Ferrari. 

The second Test starting Saturday, February 13, will provide Shastri, Kohli and their shortlisted playing 11 to prove to their fans that the pitch indeed does not play a role in India's win. 

The fact is, the curator, according to ESPN Cricinfo, has prepared a second Test pitch that's likely to assist spinners from the first day of play.

The difference in the pitch compared to the one for the first Test is attributed to the nature of the soil.

"The pitch for the first Test comprised purely of red soil and it did not break until late in the match. However, the surface for the second Test will have a base comprising red soil and a top layer comprising black cotton soil," the ESPN Cricinfo report said.

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4. Luck for India's batsmen: When a team is playing extremely well, they do not look at any luck to favor them.

However, there's considerable discussion on how Team India's batsmen were unlucky during the first Test.

The major moments of luck not favoring India are pinned on the unusual manner in which Cheteshwar Pujara got caught out during the first innings when batting on 73 - the ball ballooned after hitting the shoulder of Ollie Pope on to Rory Burns to  complete the catch.

The other unlucky dismissals talked about are captain Kohli's in the second innings - the ball keeping lower than expected to crash into his stumps and when Rohit Sharma's stumps were rattled by a vicious turner from Jack Leach.

Such luck factor may be talked about by India's ardent cricket fans as an attempt at finding solace from the defeat.

However, for Team India and their professional players, it's more to do with smart skills than luck. Their junior players are playing smarter, fearless cricket. The seniors need to stand up and be counted.

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5. Control from bowlers: This is one cause, factor or aspect among the five causes that's in India's control.

Reams of copies have been written about and talks devoted to how well India have made their mark in international cricket by introducing several positive measures to improve their bowling attack.

The National Cricket Academy, established in 2000 in Bengaluru and revamped in 2014 with a new structure is the biggest platform that's credited with producing an encouraging number of fast bowling talent for Team India.

An increased number of List A and India 'A' match exposures to players is another development considered as helping prepare Test match ready players.

Despite all these positive measures, India have found their bowlers not bowling controlled spells in the first Test.

The most valuable advice ever offered to bowlers is from Aussie bowling legend Glen McGrath. He says that throughout his playing career his attempt was not to bowl a bad ball.

A straightforward advice that's tough to follow. However, if you are helped with the best resources to practice this discipline, you can't get too wayward that'll contribute to your team losing a Test.

1 comment:

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