Team India suffered a crushing 7-wicket defeat to England in the fifth Test match at Edgbaston despite controlling the game for the first three days. The Indian bowlers failed to put pressure on Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in the second innings as they stamp their authority to help England chase down the target with quite an ease.
It was India’s third defeat on overseas soil this year and interestingly all three times they failed to defend the target after an underwhelming show in the third innings with the bat.
Team India is going through a transitional phase under head coach Rahul Dravid who has already worked with 5 captains in less than a year which might have not allowed him to execute his plans right.
However, the other big area of concern for India is the handling of senior spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who was not part of the XI for the Edgbaston clash. India decided to go with the combination of four pacers alongside Ravindra Jadeja as a lone spinner which didn’t work out well for them.
It was also the case last year in the first four matches of the series. However, there was much stability in India batting order at that time with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul at the top, scoring runs for them.
Shardul Thakur, who was picked over Ashwin, got to bowl just 18 overs in the entire match which suggested that India don’t rely much on him with the ball. And if India preferred him for his batting abilities then it backfired miserably as Thakur scored 1 and 4 in the Test match.
The Mumbaikar had a memorable outing in England last year when he scored 117 runs in two matches which included a couple of half-centuries.
Talking about the batting credentials, Ashwin himself has a decent record against England with 970 runs in 19 matches at an average of 37.30. He also scored against them last year.
The ace-spinner also had a decent record at Edgbaston with the ball as he picked 7 wickets when he played last time there in a Test match in 2018. He put up a show with the ball in both innings. 4/62 and 3/59. He took the crucial wickets of Alastair Cook, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad in the first innings while he got the better of Cook, Root and Jennings in the second.
The 35-year-old could’ve come in handy against England in the second innings when the pitch was not offering much and the sun was out. Ravindra Jadeja, who was the lone spinner in Indian XI, scored a magnificent century with the bat in first innings, but he failed to create any problems with ball and remained wicketless.
Talking about Ravichandran Ashwin’s exclusion from playing XI, head coach Rahul Dravid said: “It’s easy in hindsight. It’s not easy to leave out someone like Ash (Ashwin). But the wicket had an even layer of grass on the first day. The wicket then did not break up as much as we expected.”
India have tasted success with their four pacers and a spinner strategy but at the same time, they have to look for the right balance in the XI when they don’t have some crucial players in the team. Looking at the current Indian side, they are vulnerable in the batting department which has been exposed in the last few months.