India faced a devastating defeat at the hands of an astonishing English side that overshadowed the Men in Blue in all aspects. Chasing a humongous target of 420 runs, India was bowled out for 192 runs in their second innings as England beats India in the first Test of the 4-match series. This marks the first defeat of India at the home grounds after 2017 and 4th consecutive loss under the captaincy of Virat Kohli.
Following the great performance on the Australian soil, a 420-run chase didn’t seem like a far fetched idea. Indian batting side was capable enough with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Kohli, Pujara, Pant, Rahane.
However, this strong-hold batting order came crumbling down in front of mind-boggling reverse swings by James Anderson. The 38-year-old veteran once again proved his excellence with the swings and chipped off 3 crucial wickets that were desperately needed by the English side. Jack Leach’s come back in the second innings was equally important as he took 4 wickets for only 76 runs in his 26 overs spell.
The first breakthrough on the 5th day for England was brought by Leach who took an early wicket of Pujara (15 off 38) with a great spin. It was also Leach who took the wicket of Rohit Sharma (12 off 20) on the previous day. Things looked a bit stable after Gill scored his 3rd Test 50. However, James Anderson came in with an extraordinary inswinger that blew off the off stump and Gill had to leave the crease. Right after, another inswinger in the same way and Ajinkiya Rahane (0 off 3) had to be the victim who was sent off for a duck.
Hopes were still high with Kohli still on the battlefield and the sensation, Rishabh Pant joining him. After starting his innings in his own unique way that included 2 fours, Pant stepped into the trap fed by none other than, Anderson again. The star of the first innings was dismissed for just 11 out of 19 balls.
Soon after, Washington Sundar (0 off 5) and Ravichandran Ashwin (9 off 46) departed and all hopes faded as the Indian skipper was clean bowled by Ben Stokes. As England beats India in the first test match of the series, ICC tweeted, “A huge win over India in the first Test has propelled England to the top of the ICC World Test Championship standings 👀.”
While chasing England’s massive score of 578 runs in the first innings, thanks to the skipper Joe Root’s 218-run stroke, India was bundled for 337. Batting side came under criticism as some of the most important top-order batsmen failed to play their part.
Criticising Ajinkya Rahane, Sanjay Manjrekar wrote on Twitter, “My issue with Rahane the captain is Rahane the batsman. After that 100 in Melbourne his scores are – 27*, 22, 4, 37, 24, 1 & 0. After a 100, class players carry their form & carry the burden of players out of form.
The hitman, Rohit Sharma has failed equally to leave his impact on the red-ball cricket in the recent few matches. Sharma faced a backlash from the fans following his early dismissal on the 4th day suggesting his retirement from test matches.
Team selection also came under criticism as Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur were left off from the team who did so well in the Australian series. Replacement of Axar Patel who was ruled out on the first morning of the Test due to injury, Shahbaz Nadeem was preferred over Kuldeep Jadav.
“Ridiculous decision by #India not to play @imkuldeep18!!! If he isn’t going to play at home with the injuries they have when is he going to play!!! #INDvENG,” Vaughan wrote on his Twitter handle. Even though Nadeem took 2 wickets each in both the innings, he proved to be expensive and looked out of sorts throughout the test.
Reports suggest that the selectors chose Nadeem as he is a better batsman than Kuldeep. Nadeem was dismissed for ducks in both the innings.
The second Test will be starting on Saturday, 13th February at the same venue. Team India and the selectors have to put some serious thought into their starting XI and make some tough choices along to the way to make sure India’s comeback. India’s batting order requires some crucial rearrangements as the Men in Blue falls behind 0-1 at home in the 4-match test series.