In the series against England, Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team were stronger in both batting and bowling compared to the hosts. Despite being settled on both fronts, India lost the Test series 1-4. The key factor behind the losses was some strategic errors. In Edgbaston, India did not play two spinners. In Lord’s, playing Kuldeep Yadav on a green deck in place of a seamer proved costly. In Southampton, a half-fit Ravichandran Ashwin was picked ahead of Ravindra Jadeja. England’s lower order, notably Sam Curran, changed the course of the series twice with some great partnerships with the tail. All these factors, in addition to India’s woes in the top order resulted in the team’s overseas pain getting extended.
Maninder Singh, former Indian cricket team spinner, said Kohli’s team must take clear decisions if they are to win a series in Australia for the first time. “India can only win if they take sensible and correct decisions. During the England series, the team was balanced on all fronts. When you compared it with the England team, they were better in all aspects and it seemed unlikely that they would lose. Some dodgy team selections, misreading the conditions dragged India down. If India can overcome this in Australia, then they have a golden chance of winning the series in Australia,” Maninder said in a chat with News Nation.
Basic nature of Australia to sledge
In the press conference before the team’s departure to Australia, Kohli said he had no problem playing in an environment where there is no hostility. Even the Australian team, under Tim Paine, have stated that the team could take a toned-down approach to sledging following the ball-tampering scandal which resulted in one-year bans for Steve Smith and David Warner. However, Maninder was sceptical that Australia will not sledge.
“Australians will sledge. When they are frustrated, they will sledge. It is in their basic nature and in their personality. Maybe, with this current team, it might be a bit controlled. They might try to tone it down as they will be aware that it could be costly for them,” Maninder said.
Watch the full interview with Maninder Singh:
Recently, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis offered a tip to the Australians in which he said they should avoid a confrontation with Kohli. Maninder concurred with that view point. “Everyone knows the more you sledge Kohli, he performs better. We saw this in England. When India arrived, their former cricketers and present players like James Anderson continuously sledged Kohli about his failures on the 2014 tour and said only if he performs in England would he be considered a great cricketer. He responded with 593 runs. Australia know this very well for in the previous series, he smashed them all over the park,” Maninder said.
Worry if Kohli fails
Maninder added that the major concern for India in this series would be a lack of a Plan B in case Kohli fails. “There is a bit of doubt. Cheteshwar Pujara is at No.3 but he has been inconsistent which does not give you too much confidence. No.5 is Ajinkya Rahane and his confidence level is down as he has not contributed. If Kohli fails, then India will struggle,” Maninder said.
In the press conference, Kohli said lower order contributions, in addition to top-order partnerships, will be the key for India to achieve success against Australia. Maninder added that a clear plan from the likes of Ravi Shastri and the batting coach to the lower order will help them keep the motivation levels high.
“The lower order must be given the confidence and license to bat according to their natural style. In England, the batsmen were uncertain. The tail must be given a clear brief as to what their game should be and how they can make runs,” the former India spinner said.