Since the tour of Australia and the magnificent series win, one thing the Indian cricket is fending off is its fast bowling armory.
The investments made in fast-bowling by the Board of Control for Cricket in India — a state-of-the-art pace academy, livelier pitches in domestic competitions and, perhaps the most influential, the emergence of the Indian Premier League as a steady supply of talent to the national team — seem to be bearing fruit, at last.
Virat Kohli’s Team India has arrived in Leeds for the third Test against England which begins on Wednesday. The visitors had defeated Joe Root & Co by 151 runs in the second Test at Lord’s to go 1-0 up in the five-match series. With three more games to go, Kohli and his boys have begun training at Headingley stadium, aiming to take an unassailable lead.
It was Siraj who led the attack at Lord’s with an eight-wicket haul. And such is India’s strength in depth, when injured pace-bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur was left out from the side that drew the first Test in Nottingham, experienced quick Ishant Sharma returned to take five wickets at Lord’s.
India v England: Team news
R Ashwin has not yet got a chance to play in the series against England. India has preferred Ravindra Jadeja over R Ashwin in the first two tests. One of the reasons Jadeja got priority is because of his batting. But Jadeja is not able to contribute to the team in bowling.
Unlike the previous England tours, Team India in 2021 looks much better in terms of balance and bowling attack. Right from the beginning of the 5-match series, the visitors have given a tough fight to the home team in all departments. Virat Kohli & Co. missed the winning opportunity in Nottingham as the rain played spoilsport. However, they bounced back in London to defeat England in the second Test by 151 runs at Lord’s to go 1-0 up in the series.
And while Ashwin has remained on the sidelines, India’s all right-arm pace attack has had plenty of variety, be it the awkward angles generated by Jasprit Bumrah, the accuracy of Mohammed Shami, or the swing of Mohammed Siraj.
India v England: England woes continue
England, by contrast, are now without Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Olly Stone, and Chris Woakes, with star all-rounder Ben Stokes out of action due to mental health issues.
India captain Virat Kohli feeds off confrontation, be it to fire-up his side or unsettle the opposition.
A consequence at Lord’s was that England, in what appeared to be an attempt at revenge for the barrage of bouncers received by tailender James Anderson, seemed more concerned with trying to intimidate Shami and Bumrah than dismissing the ninth-wicket duo while they shared a vital unbroken stand of 89 on the last day where there were plenty of verbal exchanges.
While Wood’s effort in the course of India’s decisive partnership could not be faulted, the tactics most certainly could – with Root accepting responsibility at the end of the match for what was interpreted as an over-emotional attempt to get back at Bumrah in particular, after his short-pitched assault on England’s No.11 James Anderson in the final moments of the third day’s play.
Virat Kohli-led India are looking for an elusive Test series win in England after 14 years, while the hosts are dealing with injuries to their premier bowlers and the fragile batting line-up.
While Ben Stokes took an indefinite break due to mental health, days before the opening Test at Nottingham. Stuart Broad has been ruled out from the series due to calf strain he sustained during the training, and Mark Wood,too, is with an injured shoulder.
The Indian speedsters performed exceedingly well at Lord’s, putting the fragile English batting line-up to the sword. The transformation of the bowling unit from a disjointed bunch of individuals to a callous company of sharpshooters has been immense, and a lot of that is down to skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri.