England vs India, Edgbaston Test 2022: Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer, Virat Kohli disappoint with the bat; Shardul Thakur, Ravindra Jadeja fail as bowler.
On the last day of Edgbaston Test, England achieved a historic win by chasing a staggering 378 runs in the fourth innings. With this epic win, England levelled Pataudi Trophy 2021, which was left unfinished in 2021. So, Pataudi Trophy 2021 ended on a 2-2 scoreline.
Immediately after the loss, a post-mortem of the humiliating loss began among Indian media and cricket fans as India had suffered defeat on the last day of the Test match after dominating most of the game. This loss means India’s wait for a Test series win in England continued even after 15 years. The last time India won a Test series in England was way back in 2007 under the leadership of Rahul Dravid, who is current head coach of Team India now. As Indian media pounced on the captain, coach and players to blame them for this loss, there is a need for a critical analysis of where the Indian team went wrong.
Let’s take a close look at the possible reasons for this loss by analysing the performance of Indian players.
India’s batting line-up rue lost opportunity
On the flat pitch of Edgbaston, India’s top-order batting order didn’t accumulate many runs in both innings. In the first innings, Rishabh Pant bailed out the Indian team with his astonishing knock. However, in the second innings no Indian batter looked to amass big runs. May be India went wrong in reading the pitch or the new Dukes ball wasn’t taken account of properly.
If we take a look at the runs made by the batting orders of both teams, we find that as per following pie-charts, the middle order of both teams made the most runs in this Test. India’s middle-order made 66 per cent of the runs, whereas the England middle-order made 69 per cent of runs. The top orders of both teams also scored almost the same percentage of runs (21-22 pc), whereas India’s lower-order made slightly more percentage of runs than England, though the latter lost only three wickets in their second innings, while chasing the huge target.
However, when we take a look at the run rates of both teams in this Test in the following chart, we find that England batted with a better run rate in their second innings, when conditions were much better for batting. This in effect completely shut India out of the game. England batted with a stupendous run rate of 4.91 in their second innings compared with India’s run rate of 4.58.
Due to the sensational knock of Rishabh Pant, India made runs with a high run rate (4.89) in their first innings as compared to England’s first innings run rate of 2.98. So, we can gauge from these stats that England took advantage of batting-friendly conditions in the second half of the Test match and scored runs much more quickly, however, India didn’t realise the nature of the pitch and they continued to bat patiently, especially in the second innings, which they have been used to doing in England for several years. Also, India batters like Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer looked casual in their approach in both innings of the Test. Also, we could see the impact of new England head coach Brendon McCullum on England batters’ approach.
The failure of key batters like Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Hanuman Vihari hurt India’s cause massively.
Virat Kohli’s dry run continues
Premier India batter Virat Kohli didn’t score big runs in the last three years. He made his last Test century three years ago in 2019 against Bangladesh in the first pink ball Test held in Kolkata. Kohli couldn’t reach the three-figure mark even once in the last 18 Tests (32 innings). Also, he could strike only six half-centuries in this period. After 2019, he has scored only 872 runs in 18 Tests at a paltry average of 27.25.
Former India captain Virat Kohli made an error, while leaving the ball bowled by England pacer Matthew Potts and got bowled on a personal score of 11 in the first innings. Also, in the second innings, a delivery bowled by England skipper Ben Stokes bounced a delivery from nowhere, caught Virat off guard and got him to edge for a personal score of only 20 runs. The catch was snapped by Joe Root at first slip after bouncing off the gloves of wicketkeeper Sam Billings.
Hanuma Vihari – Patient but unproductive
India’s middle-order batter Hanuma Vihari was touted as the ideal replacement for Cheteshwar Pujara at the one-down position. Now, when Pujara was made to open by the team management, Vihari got to bat at the one-down position in this series-decider Test match. However, Vihari couldn’t grab the opportunity and scored only a total of 31 runs in both innings of the Test match. Vihari has played 16 Test matches in his career and scored 839 runs at a meagre average of just 33.56.
Also, this was the third tour of Vihari to England, still, he failed to deliver in an all-important series-decider against the same team. So, selectors may be wary of offering more opportunities to the Hyderabad batter.
Shreyas Iyer – Immaturity in handling crunch situations
Shreyas Iyer has always been called as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Iyer has made his name by amassing several runs in all three formats. He has played only five Tests for India and has made 422 runs with a remarkable average of 46.88 with the help of three half-centuries and one century. However, he failed to accumulate runs in the Edgbaston Test and made a total of 34 runs in both innings. His wicket at a crucial point in the second innings hurt India big time.
Even if Iyer’s Test record looks impressive for a new player, his weakness while playing short bowling caught the attention of critics and fans. Many believe that he can’t master the art of Test batting due to his obvious limitations. However, his will of finding ways to score runs in all formats may give him more chances in the red-ball format. However, Iyer should remember that youngsters like Sarfaraz Khan can replace him anytime in the playing eleven.
Shubman Gill – Still finding his feet
Shubman Gill, an elegant Punjab batter, is a perfect package to be touted as an all-format batter for India. He has showed flawless batting technique and strong composure in his short Test career. However, he failed big time in both innings of this Test match. He could register puny scores of 17 and 4 in the two innings and was first to go back to the pavilion in both innings among India openers. His wicket opened floodgates of India's batting order from one end, despite second opener Pujara being firm at one end.
Shubman Gill has scored 579 runs in his 11-match Test career with a paltry average of 30.47. Gill is way better player than what his Test stats tell us. If Gill doesn't improve much as an opener in the future, India selectors may try him in the middle-order.
India’s pace attack failed to deliver in the series-decider
India’s pace attack is called as the finest bowling line-up in the cricket world over the last few years. Indian pace attack comprising of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Ishant Sharma has scared batters ahead of any Test series due to their menacing bowling. However, the same bowling attack which breathed fire against opponent batters in the last half of the decade, looked toothless against Jonny Bairstow and company.
The leader of attack, Bumrah, again bowled breath-taking spells to take five wickets in the match. However, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj failed to deliver, though conditions also didn’t support swing bowlers in this game. Also, the lone spinner in the playing eleven, Ravindra Jadeja couldn’t open his account. On the other hand, England pacers, James Anderson and Ben Stokes, used their huge experience to dismiss India’s batters.
Shardul Thakur – Toothless in critical situations
India’s medium pacer Shardul Thakur has been known for his knack of picking wickets against the run of play. Also, he can swing the ball in swing-friendly conditions in England. However, his bowling looked toothless in this all-important Test match in Pataudi Trophy 2021. He could pick only one wicket, while bowling only 18 overs total in both innings of this Test match.
Captain Bumrah didn’t trust Thakur much in favourable conditions as Bumrah himself and Shami bowled most of the overs in overcast conditions. Also, the flat Edgbaston pitch and changed Dukes ball didn’t help Thakur much. He went for a staggering 65 runs in just 11 overs in the second innings without picking any wicket and ended his disappointing outing.
Ravindra Jadeja – Time running out
India played only one spin bowling option in the playing eleven in the series-decider. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowled 20 overs in the match and went wicketless. He conceded 62 runs in the first innings. Even his counterpart England spinner Jack Leach could pick only one wicket conceding 126 runs in the Edgbaston Test. Edgbaston's pitch didn’t offer much turn to spinners. Also, Jadeja bowled a negative leg stump line in the second innings, which didn’t help his cause.
Rishabh Pant has moved to number 5 in the latest ICC Test rankings for batters while Virat Kohli has bowed out of the top ten batters in this format after a long time.