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07 February, 2021

5 Lessons For Shastri And Kohli From Day 3 At The Chepauk


Team India, on Sunday, again found two prominent members from the Young India bunch who outshone their seniors and brought their team out of the woods.

Rishabh Pant fans would love their explosive left handed batsman to continue leading India to either wins from unexpected situations or help save the Test. 

They'd also prefer he shuns getting out in the 90s, his third instance on the third day that India ended at 257 for 6, 321 runs behind England's first innings total of 578.

After Pant, it was Washington Sundar, another Young India hero from Brisbane who stood his ground firmly till the end of the day's play. 

Unless India's famed top order decides to dramatically collapse one more time, this Chennai Test is heading to a dull draw, barring few exciting moments.

Even if India's innings ends within the 378 target for a follow on, England will not enforce it as they wouldn't want to bat fourth on a deteriorating pitch. 

The draw suits England well, not hosts India. 

Here are 5 lessons that coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli may take away from the 3rd day of this Chennai Test: 

1. Disciplined bowling and fielding before the ball turns soft: Underdogs England showed how you can rattle the opposition on a pitch that's placid with disciplined bowling and converting half chances into wickets, early.

The Englishmen had Jimmy Anderson, the most experienced and wily among their attack. 

All others, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess and Jack Leach who did bulk of the bowling are playing a Test on Indian soil for the first time. 

And despite Anderson failing to earn a wicket, Archer and Bess combined to send back India's top four by the 27th over. 

England's attack knew full well that the docile pitch meant the red ball would get softer sooner than you expect. 

Their disciplined bowling was ably supported by their fielders who scooped up remarkable catches when they mattered the most.

India may do well to imbibe this trait of disciplined bowling and agile fielding early in an innings if they are to win a couple of Tests from this 4-Test series and qualify for the World Test Championship final in June in England. 

2. All format, bigger reputation doesn't hold good: Kohli, Rohit and Rahane are all format batsmen. 

These three possess bigger reputation, experience, respect and earning power compared to a Test-only Cheteshwar Pujara, the inexperienced Shubman Gill and Pant in India's top order.

Needless to elaborate, fans expected the three to stand up and play havoc with the English attack using the enormous collective talent they are renowned for.

Yet, when it were most needed, the three failed while the lesser privileged Pujara and Pant stepped in to script the rescue act. 

Former England opening batsman, Nick Knight, now a commentator, expressed his concern at Pant's belligerence against Leach. 

Knight felt that despite his reputation as an explosive bat even in a Test, Pant would do well for his team by curbing his combative approach considering the precarious situation India were in.

India were in a pressured situation before their innings began. Their top order were expected to be watchful every ball and choose the bad ones to score until their team reached a commanding position in response to England's mammoth total.

Kohli, Rohit and Rahane will have to score big going forward in every Test if India are to win this series. 

3. KL Rahul or Mayank for Rohit Sharma? Rohit's career 34 Tests suggest he wasn't a preferred choice as a Test batsman, leave aside opening the innings.

He has seen several downs in his One Day International and Test career.

However, he has received everyone's backing as a Test opener from the time he scored those three quick tons including a double hundred as an opener in 2019.

Then again, his languid batting and fielding style may be beginning to affect the current India goal, especially when the team also have two other talents, KL Rahul  and Mayank Agarwal warming the bench. 

Rohit may have to score big during these first two Tests before the fans begin their demand for the return of either Agarwal or KL Rahul to partner Gill.

4. Character, Intent, Attitude lacking in Rohit, Virat, Ajinkya: This may be arguably incorrect, however, compared to the manner in which their juniors Gill and Pant batted on Sunday, the senior trio Kohli, Rohit and Rahane seemed lacking in intent, character and attitude.

The three seem confused over the appropriate moment to attack, respect the good balls and command respect from the opposition bowlers.

Gill impressed fans during his 28-ball 29 stay at the crease. It was his confident and solid approach to facing Anderson and Archer that impressed fans more than the five exquisite boundaries that he struck before his unfortunate dismissal.

On his part, Pant has won over his staunchest critics with the way he picks the right balls to hit. 

Both, Gill and Pant haven't let slip the Character, Intent, Attitude they showed so remarkably in India's historic 2-1 series win over Australia. 

5. England's bowling coach, Jeetan Patel seem to have worked with Dom Bess better than Bharat Arun with Ashwin: Ashwin has claimed in a recent interview that: "Over the last two years in SENA tours, I think I have done enough to say I am the best spinner."

Cricket fans in India are accustomed to their spinners single-handedly running through an opposition or demolishing their innings.

Ashwin, Team India's premier spinner has done so previously. However, just when India needed him to lead the attack in halting England's surge on his home ground, Chennai, Ashwin seemed to be searching for clues.

Bess's incisive off-spinners have fueled the argument whether India's bowling coach and Ashwin did a combined homework on identifying chinks in England's batsmen and exploiting them.