England completed a 4-1 series win over India as they defeated the world’s top-ranked Test side by 118 runs at the Oval. A comprehensive victory was sealed when James Anderson knocked over Mohammad Shami to get past Glenn McGrath’s tally of 563 wickets. As India’s long tour of England comes to an end, here is a look at some of the takeaways from the recently concluded Test series.
Unarguably the best batsman of the series, Kohli has left behind the demons that haunted him back in 2014. Kohli made some adjustments in his technique by standing outside of his crease (to cut down the impact of swing), being more sideways on and getting his movements out of the way so that he had more time to adjust.
Kohli's strike points vs seam ©Sky Sports
Also, his stubbornness in not putting the bat on the ball held him in great stead. His nemesis from the 2014 tour, James Anderson, couldn’t dismiss him once although the England paceman was unlucky on so many occasions. Kohli was smart enough to realise that he is not going to get too many freebies from him so he gave Anderson the required respect and scored off the other bowlers. With 593 runs in this series, Kohli has undoubtedly marked himself as one of the greats of the modern era.
One of the biggest positives for India has been their fast bowling stocks given their woes in the past of not being able to take 20 wickets in a Test match. On the previous tour of South Africa, India’s quick bowlers bowled extremely well to a side which had the likes of Hashim Amla and Ab de Villiers. Despite missing out on the services of a genuine swing bowler in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, they were completely dominant over the England batsmen as the home side had to earn each and every run. They stuck to their plans of going round-the-wicket to England’s left-handers most of the time which left them searching for their off-stump. On the other hand, Joe Root had some of his problems against Jasprit Bumrah as the England captain was unable to locate his off-stump a lot of times, forcing him to change his strategy.
Opening the batting was tough for the batsmen from both sides given the conditions and the quality of bowling batsmen had to face. Following Andrew Strauss’ retirement, England have tried 12 different opening batsmen but none of them has made a statement at the International level. And now, since Alastair Cook has retired as well, the selectors have to find a replacement for the veteran opening batsman. On the other hand, Jennings’ future hangs in balance as well given his struggles in this Test series. It remains to be seen whether Ed Smith persists with Jennings or two new opening batsmen will be heading to Sri Lanka in October.
Rahul has been prone to playing across his front pad in this series ©Sony LIV
Indian openers haven’t delivered throughout the tour but KL Rahul’s hundred in the final Test would give him much needed confidence after his vulnerability to get his head outside the line came under scrutiny. After this series, India have to make a decision on whether they are persisting with Shikhar Dhawan for the upcoming series against West Indies and Australia or will they pick young Prithvi Shaw and invest on him.
One of the finds of the tour, Sam Curran has delivered at some of the most crucial points in this Test series for his side. His 63 off 65 balls propelled England's total to 180 and in the final innings, India fell short by 31 runs. His 78 at the Ageas Bowl again proved very instrumental after England's top-order collapsed. Curran's bowling has been impressive as well as he can swing the ball back into the right-handers and can hold one across them as well which can leave the batsmen guessing all the time. His three wicket burst against India at Edgbaston opened up the gates for England after Broad and Anderson had gone wicket less in their opening spell. It will be interesting to see how well he does when the conditions won’t be in his favor but surely he has shown a lot of maturity for a 20-year-old lad.
When Jos Buttler was picked for the Pakistan series, there were a lot of questions on whether players should be picked for Test cricket on the basis of their performances in white ball cricket. Buttler had done well in the IPL but it was doubtful whether he could adapt to Test cricket. In the series against Pakistan, his strategy of getting outside of his crease against Mohammad Abbas provided a template to other batsmen and in the India series, he scored his maiden Test hundred at Trent Bridge. An attacking batsman by nature, Buttler adapted brilliantly and showed some of the other England batsmen how to leave the ball outside off-stump. He occupied the crease for longer periods which ultimately brought him a lot of runs. He wasn’t quite consistent with his performances but has shown signs of a solid Test batsman.