By V.N. Prasad
Though not a ‘Nail Biter’; the 31 runs victory of the English over the Indians at Edgbaston leaves a few questions unanswered. Density of atmosphere helped the cherry move around sharply. Less of ‘green-top’ helped moderate bounce. Purchase of turn by Ashwin from day one kept many wondering if it was costly leaving out Jadeja and/or Kuldeep.
Throughout the test, groping edges and sleepy slip cordon of both the teams left many wondering if it was a test match or a country-side friendly match being witnessed. Comedy of errors by Rahane, Dhawan, Karthik, Cook, Malan, Jennings etc. reminded me of a very interesting incident when I was playing for UVCE, Bengaluru. Nazareth was our coach. He screamed thus at a session — devoted for fielding. “Slip cordon, your BUMS should be hanging above the ground by 9 to 12 inches. DO NOT put your palms on your knees as if you are waiting for a fly to pass your nose. Hang low and ‘CUP’ your palms every delivery anticipating an edge. With low BUMs, you have the telescopic effect in your thighs and calf muscles to spring forward and sideways to latch on to the ball.” How true in contrast to what we witness in modern day cricket. The melee of dropped catches was comical to mention the least. Worst amongst them was Karthik obstructing Dhawan’s view; in a halfhearted move by DK; bordering immaturity.
The world witnessed the best bowling performance of Anderson, Broad, Curran and Stokes. They bowled with venom and accuracy in both the innings. If only Umesh and Ishant were as effective in the 1st innings as they were in the 2nd, the match would have been more interesting. Legendary McGrath lamented — “Ishant Sharma needs to figure out his role in the Indian team, observing that he has been more of a workhorse than a strike bowler.”
Opening partnership is the key for any side to build a competitive total. Neither Dhawan nor Vijay exhibited any class. Both were suspects against the English foursome. Less said the better about proverbial ‘caving-in’ of KLR, Rahane and DK. Pedestrian to say the least. Though Virat had a few let-offs, he was striking the ball confidently and so was Pandya.
Confidence helps overcome uncertainties around you. In this context, young (20) Sam Curran stole the show both with the ball and the bat. But for his spirited and blemish less 63 in the first innings, Englishmen would have found it difficult to save the test, despite everything that our boys did to snatch defeat. His fearless approach to batting and the heart to bowl; inches short of good length; swinging the ball both ways exposed our batsmen. We do hope that the boys and Ravi Shastry carry the experiences of Edgbaston to the Lord’s and exhibit more maturity in wise selection of the eleven and gritty performance to win the test and to keep the series interesting.