Rohit and Dravid India’s conundrum. The Indian think-tank must come up with concrete plans to keep England’s attack-minded batters quiet and to negotiate the visitors’ spin threat.

As the clock ticked over to 5.30 pm on Sunday local lad Mohammed Siraj stumped by charging debutant Tom Hartley. India slumped to only their fourth defeat in their last 48 home Tests. There’s no shame in that, many might say. Just four losses in more than a decade isn’t cause for concern, they might insist.

Dominated the first two days of the first Test against England. India finds ways to court disaster, allowing themselves to be comprehensively outplay by an outfit that, for all its feisty show of character, should not get even a toehold.

Both Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid called it the finest exhibition of those high-risk strokes in a Test in India, but the captain and the head coach respectively must ruminate on their tactics and wonder how the right-hander was able to play those shots so often for so long with such impact.

Rohit and Dravid India's conundrum.
Rohit and Dravid India’s conundrum.

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India’s Spin Woes Against England

By letting England post 420 in their second innings, India’s spinners let themselves down. At various stages on the third evening and the fourth morning, they seemed resigned to their fate, the in-out fields stopping neither the frustrating flow of singles nor the more damaging boundaries that even Nos. 8 and 9, Rehan Ahmed and Hartley respectively, uncorked nonchalantly.

A target of 231 meant India’s chase wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but the complete lack of application and the unwillingness to use their feet against Hartley, the left-arm spinner. Off-spinner Joe Root reconfirmed the long-held belief that India can no longer lay claim to possessing the best players of the turning ball.

In the four days between Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, where the second Test starts on Friday, the think-tank must come up with concrete plans to keep England’s attack-minded batters quiet as well as to negotiate the English spin threat with greater composure and confidence.

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Spin Lessons, Batting Concerns Persist

It won’t be out of place for these bowlers to cast an eye on the opposition and see how Hartley, Root, and the injured Jack Leach went about their business. The English spinners showed that limitations can be used to one’s advantage; there is a lesson in that which must not be ignored because variety need not always be the spice of life.

Of greater worry – the second-innings bowling can still be viewed as a one-off for now – is the increasing string of failures being stacked up by Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer. Assuming Virat Kohli is back as expected for the third Test, one of these two will certainly miss out. Gill was subdued and tentative in the first innings and went second ball in the second, while Iyer hardly looked like the accomplished player of spin he is reputed to be. India’s batting at home in recent years has been systemically underwhelming, Sunday in Uppal the latest example of a more-than-slightly alarming trend.

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