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India's Young Pretenders Found Out By England

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane scored a match-winning century at Lord's before India's batting line-up made a habit of collapsing
©REUTERS / Action Images

The world of sport can be the most tranquil place when you are succeeding in your sport and the loneliest place when things aren’t going so well.

Such an analogy is fitting for the current Indian batting line-up as this batting line-up has been under the microscope after a desperate performance in the Test series against England.

Throughout the years, India have been blessed with talented batsmen, whether it be Sachin Tendulkar, or Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid. These players were famed for their run-scoring ability and how they could get 'stuck in' - a prime example in Tendulkar’s case is the battling 18 runs he made against Pakistan in 1989 which included pace greats Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, who many argue are the greatest new ball pairing of all time.

In life everything must come to an end, and the world of sport is no different, and so India’s famed batting line-up was broken up.

Dravid, VVS Laxman and eventually Tendulkar would all retire, which would lead to a massive shake-up of one of the best batting line-ups that that this generation has ever seen.

It was seemingly a near impossible task to replace those great players but replace them they did.

Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli all came in as part of the new Indian batting line-up. In Kohli’s case it’s hard to believe that the Delhi man is still only 25 as his scoring averages rival Tendulkar’s (but it’s maybe a bit early do draw such comparisons).

Each of these players have shown promise in their own right. The recent tour to South Africa was seen as a massive test to their batting credentials, and these players came through with flying colours.

India’s batting order looked settled, many believing that the problem of replacing great players of the past had been solved.

The thing was though that there was a different test to come this summer, in the shape of England and deadly swing duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

India's batting struggles in England

Shikhar Dhawan: 122 runs @ average 20.33

Murali Vijay: 402 @ 40.20

Gautam Gambhir: 25 @ 6.25

Cheteshwar Pujara: 222 @ 22.20

Virat Kohli: 134 @ 13.40

Ajinkya Rahane: 299 @ 33.22

Rohit Sharma: 34 @ 17.00

MS Dhoni: 349 @ 34.90

Stuart Binny: 118 @ 23.60

England went into the series on the back of a Test series defeat to Sri Lanka, which extended their winless run to 10 Tests. The Indians must have been licking their lips at the prospect of facing a team and a bowling attack that was low on confidence.

Initially India’s top order didn’t do too badly. Two of their top five made centuries in the first two Tests and a match-winning century by Rahane made the difference as India won the second Test. It appeared then that India’s young batting line-up was managing the challenge very well of batting on the seaming wickets of England.

What makes things so beautiful about sport is that things can change very quickly, and so it proved.

After the Lord's Test this strong batting line-up against which England were struggling all of a sudden became ‘fragile’. From then on, Alastair Cook’s men would regularly have India five wickets down with 50 or 60 runs on the board; the battling spirit seemed non-existent.

Another thing that also became apparent was the struggles of India’s two star men (Pujara and Kohli). The struggles of the pair weren't initially obvious, but as other players struggled around them, Kohli and Pujara’s struggles were evident for all to see.

The easiest thing to do after a defeat of this nature is to over-react. India’s batting line-up is young and still in need of experience, but the main problem was that these players needed to apply themselves better.

India’s batsmen have not turned into the world’s worst batsmen overnight, and to be fair I am not sure if there are many batsmen who would be able to live with Anderson and Broad in this form, let alone India’s.

So the questions many will be asking is 'are the players the young pretenders?' Well if you ask me I feel in a few years’ time the Indian batting line-up has the potential to be the young gladiators.

© 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