India were too good for England, even though they came with high expectations after their heroics in the 2012 test series in India. This time, they were not the settled or experienced team as the last squad that visited the country. Cricket-21 takes a look at such factors that cost England the test series.
One too many left-handers
The New Zealand tour of India test series showed Ashwin’s prowess against left handers. England, knowing full well that India would be attempting to bowl Ashwin at all their left-handers, landed in India with eight left-handers. Their typical playing XI had five left-handers, all of whom reflected in Ashwin’s wicket tally for the series.
Gary Ballance, who did not get one game in the first four test matches , could have been left-out for a right-hander, maybe the experienced Ian Bell, or even Sam Billings who played in India during the Indian Premier League.
Ashwin vs LHB and RHB in this series
Vulnerable Middle Order
England’s 2012 batting line-up had reliable and experienced cricketers. They had Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Prior coming one after the other. Not to forget that they opened with Strauss and Cook.
Pietersen was a pivotal player in that series, he served as an attacking option at number four. The Mumbai test where he scored a blistering century was a testament to how flustered the Indian spinners get when they are attacked with intent.
England had Duckett batting at No.4 for the first two tests in this series. Neither him, nor his replacement Moeen Ali are such belligerent batsmen. Maybe Buttler would have been a good pick at number four.
Root could be a typical replacement for Trott, at #3, when he is able to convert his half centuries into big scores.
England still won three tosses in the first four games, a big score from any of their batsman could have changed the outlook of the series.
England’s Top 4 Batsmen – Performances in 2012 and 2016
Doubts over Cook’s captaincy
On hindsight, there are some decisions that Cook might rethink. At Rajkot with India reeling, Kohli managed to secure a draw after scoring a fifty and setting up a partnership with the lower order. Maybe England could have declared 10 to 15 overs before they did.
Cook’s deployment of pacers and spinners came into question many times throughout the series. England had India on backfoot quite a few times and they were also ahead while starting sessions. Too many times Cook didn’t bring out his strike bowlers Adil Rashid or Moeen Ali, instead bowled the likes of Gareth Batty or Ansari.
And when the injured Zafar Ansari was to be replaced, England brought in Liam Dawson into the squad, but he was not played in the XI for the fourth test. Maybe a left-arm spinner, like Dawson or Jadeja, who picked six wickets in the fourth test, would have been more useful than a fast bowling all-rounder at Mumbai.
Even now, at the eve of the fifth test, it is not clear which English spinners would be playing except Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali.