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05 February, 2021

#INDvENG: 5 Reasons Why India Failed Their One Square Root And Sibley Amazing Tests On Day 1



Cricket fans in India were expecting a Friday Blockbuster that'll see their Australia-triumph heroes, bowling or batting, put England on the back foot.

Instead, the first day of the 4-Test series began with returning skipper Virat Kohli and his men failing to solve the square root of Joe test assigned to them.

They failed even bigger when they allowed opener Dom Sibley to negotiate his way into form after struggling in Sri Lanka.

Here are 5 reasons why Team India failed their test on Day 1: 

1. Whose pitch is it anyway? It's a given that the host team prefers the curator of the pitch to prepare a deck that'll offer benefits to the home team from the start.

Instead the Chepauk pitch was described by former England and India players now commentating as placid, flat, tepid, docile and probably every synonym that goes along. 

It isn't clear as to why would the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) approve the Tamilnadu Cricket Association (TNCA)'s decision to coax a textile industry entrepreneur (locally popular as businessman) to leave his profession aside early January and move to Chennai to prepare pitches.

After their scintillating victories on bouncy Australian pitches, you'd have expected India to carry those Character, Intent, Attitude from down under and let the world know that they are not afraid of preparing pace friendly pitches at home.

Former India captain and legend Sunil Gavaskar summed up India's day saying they couldn't have done anything much or different. 
As an India cricket fan, you can only expect the team thinktank to come out with more incisive plan on Day 2.

2. Playing Ishant and Bumrah: Was it wise on Coach Ravi Shastri and Kohli's part to have both Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, returning from injuries, to open the bowling in a crucial opening Test match?

Bumrah, as Gavaskar often points out,  works on improving himself with every game. His inclusion and better performance was guaranteed.

Ishant, playing his 98th Test, looked sharp in bursts. During those bursts, he reminded you of a mix of Mitchell Starc's wayward bowling and Pat Cummins' penetrative spells in India's second innings at the Gabba. 

Sharma ended the day wicketless from his 15 overs. Could it have been prudent to make Ishant walk into the playing 11 straight from a stint at the National Cricket Academy? Should the hungrier Mohammed Siraj been preferred for the first Test?

These, and few other questions will continue to be asked from cricket fans until India turn the tide and start winning sessions and the match. 

3. Inexperienced bowling pair when the batsmen were set: You'd have to support former England captain Michael Vaughan and India's cricketer turned Member of Parliament Gautam Gambhir this time for expressing shock at the inclusion of Shabaz Nadeem over Kuldeep Yadav.

Both, Nadeem and Yadav haven't played a Test for long. Yadav, at least has been with Team India throughout the Australia tour and have been bowling in the nets.

And when bowling coach Bharat Arun praised Yadav for his hard work with an hint that the bowler would likely get his chance, fans were sure just as Vaughan and Gambhir were, that Yadav would play this Test.

As if this wasn't enough, Nadeem was paired with another inexperienced bowler, Washington Sundar in the 41st over to bowl to England captain and Sri Lanka's nemesis Joe Root and a well-set Sibley. 

4. Root, Sibley sticking to team goal: Root and England have screamed from the rooftop that their primary goal during this Test series would be to notch huge first innings totals.

Although India seemed to have a Plan B in place, it did not work. Shastri from the stands and Kohli on the field could only watch the Root-Sibley show for a major part of the day.

An emboldened Root (a century in his 100th Test), with England at 263 for 3, now wants to pile on more agony on India. 

"We've got to look to try and get as many as we can - 600, 700 if we can, really try and make the most of the first innings while it's good.

"Those footholes are starting to wear quite quickly. So if we can bat the whole of tomorrow and maybe into day three then things could speed up quite quickly for us and you never know what can happen from that point onwards," he said at the end of the day's play.

5. Biding time for the new ball: Because of a placid pitch, the red ball was softer by the 50th over. It looked like the entire India team were biding time until they get their hands on the second new ball. 

When the time arrived, the commentators were confused why wasn't Kohli taking the second new ball and instead letting Ravichandran Ashwin bowl with the old one.

The situation made Mark Butcher in the commentary box ask cheekily: "Doesn't Ashwin have a good wicket-taking record with the new ball?"

Soon after the new ball was taken, India squandered any advantage with it as Ishant sprayed the ball, failing to maintain a consistent line and length. 

It was up to Bumrah to get another breakthrough in the final over the day.

It'll be interesting to see how India counter the England challenge during the remaining four days. 

They'd do well if they expand the team strategy huddle. In other words, Ajinkya Rahane needs to be encouraged to offer his thoughts proactively and not only when he is asked by Kohli.