The age-old instruction on how to beat in England is simple. Wait. But Indians don’t know how to wait that well. Especially when the ball is swirling around. The swing breaks their spirits, and the moment the ball begins to deflect to the side or change shape, the Indian batsman freezes. The balance starts to go askew, the bat follows, and here they break the cardinal rule of batsmanship: Never play from your body. This will be familiar territory for Indian batsmen with the trajectory of a swinging ball winking at them.
Lack of preparation immediately after the IPL may prevent India from ending their ICC championship drought.
Everything looks good, but the only worry is that they have played so much T20 cricket in the last two months and it will be difficult for them to adapt quickly because they have no playing practice, only four or five days of preparation. I’m sure these days cricketers have learned to transition quickly with so much cricket, but it won’t be easy, former India player Wasim Jaffer told The Indian Express.
His view is shared by former India captain and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar, who believes that acclimatization is the key to success in England.
Acclimatization is very important. It’s not like Asia, where you can adapt quickly. In England, it takes time, says Vengsarkar.
The pressure is on openers
In four Tests after losing in the WTC final, India performed well and led 2-1 against England in the series fold. The reason for India’s success was the way Indian openers Rohit Sharma and K. L. Rahul played in this series. Rohit scored a game-winning 127 points the last time India played at the Oval. That hit came in the second inning, when India was trailing by 99 points, and it was an uncharacteristic hit for Rohit, who pitched 256 innings, spent nearly five hours in the chair and allowed just six hits. He, and a red-hot Shubman Gill, want to whitewash Southampton’s nightmare, where they were ruined by an outing in the first inning and a late swing in the second.
Former Indians opener Wasim Jaffer says the game with the new ball will be key.
Open players will have a huge role to play. England is the toughest place to bat because of lateral movement. Conditions change so drastically because of the weather. It changes quickly. The Duke ball also creates a lot of problems. When myach is getting old, he keeps swinging, and also starts moving backward. With Stark and Cummins running at 145 km/h, it’s not going to be easy, Jaffer says.
Cummins will be a different beast with Duke balls. If conditions favor them a little bit, they will make life unbearable for the Indian openers.
Rohit scored a hundred at the Oval, and Shubman is in great shape in all formats. Having a good starting stand is very important in England. Open players will have to play well, and they won’t want to jeopardize their middle order. That was a problem last time in the WTC finals. The New Zealand bowling attack (Southey, Boult, Jamison and Wagner) played very well. India need not make that mistake again. Playing the first 30 overs will be key. If India don’t lose early wickets, I think they will have a very strong lineup to negate the Aussie attack, he adds.
Dilip Vengsarkar has high hopes for Shubman Gill, believes the young player’s time has come and expects him to hit hard.
He has all the skills and temperament. He plays cricket and hits equally in all three formats. He needs to transfer his form to the WTC.
I really hope he does well because he is very important for Indian cricket, said Vengsarkar.
Adaptation is key
Swing has always been India’s nemesis. The old adage of Test cricket give the first hour to the bowlers and dominate the rest of the day doesn’t work when you play in England.
Vengsarkar says batting in English conditions is like playing chess. One wrong move and it’s checkmate.
In England there is movement in the air and at the wicket. You can’t take big hits, you have to push the ball around. That’s the key point. Wait for the ball; don’t make an expansive drive unless the ball is very much pitched, he advised.
Another thing about playing in England is that you can’t lose concentration, even if you’re set up, you just can’t afford it.
When the sun is shining, the batting is good, but as soon as it gets cloudy, the ball wobbles. In England, you can catch all the seasons in one day. You have to bat very carefully till the end, said Vengsarkar.
Waseem Jaffer highlights what,how Virat Kohli beat in 2018, as a great example of how to fight the swing and the movement.
Kohli had a terrible series in 2014, scoring just 134 runs in 10 innings. But in 2018, he returned to England as a completely different batsman and finished the Test series as the top scorer with an impressive 593 runs scored, with two milestones and three fifties.
Jaffer notes that the number of balls Virat left was key to his success in 2018.
Even if you’re hitting 60 or 70, suddenly one ball will come in and can take you out of the game. You can’t play away from your body in England. You have to be very confident in your offstep.
If you think back to when Virat Kohli scored so much in the 2018 series, he left a lot of balls. This bowling attack will constantly challenge you. They will keep bowling along the line of fifth and sixth stumps, and you have to be very sure which ball you want to play and which you want to leave behind. You can’t leave the bat hanging, you have to keep it close to your body, Jaffer says.
Pujara, white walker
When his teammates were busy slam-banging the IPL, Cheteshwar Pujara was in white, playing cricket in England. In eight matches for the Sussex team, India’s No. 3 player scored 545 runs, including three centuries.
Jaffer says it doesn’t matter how many runs Pujara scores in the WTC final, but at this rate, he’s the only one on the Indian cricket team who has done the hard work.
Pujara is the only player who has prepared well. He has been playing cricket in the county since April and has been scoring points too. He’s better prepared than anyone else, Jaffer said.
Jaffer also believes that the games against Australia have always brought Pujara the best qualities. The right-handed hitter averaged 50.82 in 24 games against Australia. He scored 2,033 runs, including five centuries and eleven fifty-plus points.
Against Australia, he scored a lot of runs. He is a pain in their flesh and they know how important Pujara’s wicket is. He wears down the bowlers. Pujara should perform well for India and the good thing is that he has prepared well. What happens in the match is another story, but at least he has done well, Jaffer said.
Don’t sleep in the cordon
Besides the propensity for suicide in baseball, Indian cricketers suffer from oily fingers that easily fall off when catching the ball. SlyThe p-cordon with the oily fingers cost India several matches in England.
Catching a slip is very difficult. England don’t have such big viewing screens. You don’t have a clear background. Dukes ball swings a lot, keepers have a lot of trouble when the ball crosses the stump. Same problem with slip-fielders. The ball swings and after a hit from the edge, Jaffer says.
Catching practice will be very important. They come after the IPL, where they don’t catch on the slip anymore. But in England, slip catching becomes key. And you also have to make sure the slip cordon is very secure. Who will be in first, second, third and fourth places, he adds.
Jaffer hopes the Indian slip cordon has had good practice catching, because you can’t miss in the finals.
Cordon usually makes 70 catches a day. There are also one-on-one classes if you are not at your best. It also depends on the individual, he says.
Historically, the Oval is a good hitter’s court and has more bounce compared to other English courts. Dilip Vengsarkar thinks that unless the weather is overcast, India should play with three seamers and two spinners.
The Oval is a good pitch for baseball, and it also has good bounce. There is a chance that India will play with five bowlers and two spinners on the team. If conditions are overcast, they may play with four middle-packers and one spinner, given that Ravindra Jadeja will play as a versatile player in the team, said Vengsarkar.