Tuesday 19 August 2014 

Analysis - What Went Wrong For India

India's players at The Kia Oval
India's desperate run culminated in a defeat inside three days at The Kia Oval
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

I've been asked time and time again where India went wrong in their recent 3-1 thrashing at the hands of England.

But the problem is I don't even know where to begin. India's batting, bowling and fielding were all atrocious following their 95-run victory in the second Test at Lord's. However, there were other reasons that had an impact on their horrendous performance as well. 

Batting

Let's start by analysing India's batting. Many of the Indian batsmen like Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane got off to excellent starts, but failed to carry their good form right through the series.

It is interesting to note that out of the 402 runs Vijay scored in the series, 317 of them came in the first two Tests, which India did well in. The exact same thing happened to Pujara as he amassed 164 out of the 222 runs he made during the series in the first two Tests. The only difference about Rahane is the fact that his good form stretched into the third Test in Southampton.

India's series statistics - batting

Runs Average
Murali Vijay 402 40.20
MS Dhoni 349 34.90
Ajinkya Rahane 299 33.22
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 247 27.44
Cheteshwar Pujara 222 22.20
Ravindra Jadeja 177 22.13
Virat Kohli 134 13.40
Shikhar Dhawan 122 20.33
Stuart Binny 118 23.60
Ravichandran Ashwin 106 35.33
Mohammad Shami 79 19.75
Ishant Sharma 35 11.67
Rohit Sharma 34 17.00
Gautam Gambhir 25 6.25
Varun Aaron 12 4.00
Pankaj Singh 10 3.33

Another big thing about India's batting was certain key players such as Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli failing to step up at any point during the series. Kohli only scored 134 runs at an average of 13.40, while Dhawan was dropped after the third Test because, for some bizarre reason, the national selectors thought Gautam Gambhir was going to have an impact after spending years on the sidelines.

Speaking about Gambhir, he did not show any fight whatsoever during the two Tests he played. I myself believe that he hammered the final nail in his coffin with his despicable run out in the second innings of the fifth Test at The Oval.

Not only did he make a bad call to take a single, but he didn't even make an effort to get back into the crease. It was as if he didn't care and had given up on himself and the millions of fans praying to see him shine once again.

One person who really shocked me with their batting was pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar. I honestly couldn't believe how easy he was finding it to score half-centuries during the first two Tests. While many of India's top batsmen struggled to face James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali, Kumar went about his business with relative ease and even played some impressive strokes.

It was mind-boggling to see a tail-ender outscore a majority of the top and middle order. I still don't understand why India's batsmen could not score any runs when people like Kumar and Mohammed Shami were basking in the applause of the crowd after having brought up their half-centuries.

It was also a huge shock when India started getting bowled out for less than 200 from the second innings of the third Test onwards. It seemed as if their batsmen were simply gifting their wickets to England and did not have a care in the world that they had just thrown their wicket away.

In my eyes, it was a disgusting attitude by India. If their batsmen are just going to give their wickets away without trying at all, then what is the point of them even playing? They might as well shake hands with England and forfeit the match before it even begins.

Simply put, when India were bowled out for 94 in the second innings of the fifth Test, it was the cherry on the top which capped off their highly pathetic display with the bat.

Bowling

India's bowling was no better either. Many people said that Ishant Sharma bowled extremely well to lead India to victory at Lord's, but the real reason for that was down to England's batsmen playing silly shots and falling in the same trap over and over again.

India's series statistics - bowling

Wickets Average
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 19 26.63
Ishant Sharma 14 27.21
Ravindra Jadeja 9 46.67
Mohammad Shami 5 73.20
Varun Aaron 5 50.00
Ravichandran Ashwin 3 33.67
Pankaj Singh 2 146.00
Rohit Sharma 1 58.00
Murali Vijay 1 32.00

Kumar was by far India's standout bowler, but I was highly unimpressed with the rest of the bowling attack. No one seemed to care from the third Test onwards as they simply kept bowling wherever they wanted.

If you were to take a look at some of the bowling graphics that were shown on Sky Sports, India's bowlers were all over the place. It seemed as if they started to panic and did whatever they felt like after a plan had failed.

If bowling full failed, they tried to pepper the England batsmen with a massive number of short-pitched deliveries and vice versa. It looked like they had abandoned the main plan of concentrating on maintaining a good line and length.

In my opinion, India's bowlers simply did whatever they wanted and captain MS Dhoni could not stop them since they weren't listening or just didn't want to.

Fielding

One of the most agonising things throughout the series was India's fielding. Just looking at some of the replays makes me put my head in my hands and shake it in disgust.

Dropped catches, missed run outs, overthrows, misfields, missed stumping opportunities all became a common theme for India after their win at Lord's and I still don't understand why.

During the five-Test series, India dropped 10 catches and a majority of them were by fielders in the slip cordon. I just don't understand how some of the best fielders in the world are dropping so many catches in such a high profile series. It almost seemed like India were intent on giving the England batsmen an extra life.

Overconfidence

India were firing on all cylinders heading into the third Test, but something definitely went awry for them to be beaten so easily. Yes, their batting, bowling and fielding all played a part, but I also feel as if India constantly become overconfident after they register a victory over another team.

I have said this before, but it seems as if it has become more and more prominent as of late. To me, it looked as if India underestimated England and their counter-attack.

To put it in an even better context, it was as if India were the Trojans and England were the men hiding in the wooden horse sent in by the Greeks. Just like that episode of history, India were caught off guard when England came roaring back with a newfound determination and hunger to win.

Not learning from mistakes

Moving on to my next point, India simply did not learn from their mistakes throughout the entire series. Many of the batsmen, especially Virat Kohli, kept driving at deliveries outside the off-stump that they didn't even need to play at and ended up being caught behind or in the slip cordon.

It was bizarre that it kept happening again and again because I honestly thought that India were better than that and would learn from their mistakes at some point. But, clearly they proved me wrong and carried on playing like headless chickens who had no idea where their off-stump was.

In addition to that, India's batsmen also did not learn that poor foot movement was another cause of their dismissals. India's batsmen are renowned for arguably having the best foot movement in the game since they play on spin-friendly pitches and constantly have to come down the track to spinners.

During this series, it seemed as if they forgot everything about foot movement and thought that their feet were glued to the crease. It was a major pain to watch batsman after batsman get out due to poor foot movement because India are better than that and know how to use their feet.

No DRS

Finally, India shot themselves in the gut by deciding not to have the Decision Review System (DRS) throughout the series. It was agonising to watch umpires give batsmen out when they were not supposed to be and vice versa.

One of the more infamous examples of this came in the third Test, which they lost by 266 runs. England batsman Ian Bell, who scored a vital 167 during the match, should have been out lbw before he had scored a run but since there was no DRS, the Indians could not review the decision.

The same thing happened with wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, who made his debut during that match and scored 85. Buttler should have been dismissed for a duck as well when he edged a delivery to Rahane at second slip. But, since there was no DRS, there was not enough evidence to tell whether Rahane had taken the catch cleanly and Buttler was eventually given the benefit of the doubt.

After analysing all the reasons of what went wrong during India's nightmare Test series against England, I firmly believe that the Indian players need to look through all the highlights of this series and pinpoint what they need to improve on individually.

If they don't, then they will experience the exact same, or an even worse, nightmare when they tour Australia in December since the Australian batsmen will just pile on the runs, while their bowling attack, and Mitchell Johnson in particular, will knock over the Indian batsmen like dominoes.

© Cricket World 2014

Fixtures & Results

9th-13th July: 1st Test, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
India 457 & 391-9 dec. (Binny 78) drew with
England 496 (Root 154no, Anderson 81)
17th-21st July: 2nd Test, Lord's, London
India 295 & 342 (Vijay 95, Jadeja 68) beat
England 319 & 223 (Sharma 7-74) by 95 runs
27th-31st July: 3rd Test, The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
England 569-7 dec. & 205-4 dec. beat
India 330 & 178 (Ali 6-67) by 266 runs
7th-11th August: 4th Test, Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
England 367 (Root 77, Buttler 70) beat
India 152 & 166 by an innings & 54 runs
15th-19th August: 5th Test, The Kia Oval, London
England 486 (Root 149no, Cook 79) beat
India 148 & 94 by an innings & 244 runs
25th August: 1st ODI, Bristol
Match abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain
27th August: 2nd ODI, SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff
India 304-6 (Raina 100, Woakes 4-52) beat
England 161 (Jadeja 4-28) by 133 runs (D/L)
30th August: 3rd ODI, Trent Bridge, Nottingham
India 228-4 (Rayudu 64no) beat
England 227 (Cook 44) by six wickets
2nd September: 4th ODI, Edgbaston, Birmingham
India 212-1 (Rahane 106, Dhawan 97no) beat
England 206 (Moeen Ali 67) by nine wickets
5th September: 5th ODI, Headingley, Leeds
England 294-7 (Root 113, Buttler 49) beat
India 253 (Jadeja 87) by 41 runs
7th September: T20I, Edgbaston, Birmingham
England 180-7 (Morgan 71, Hales 40)
India 177-5 (Kohli 66) by three runs