Pataudi Trophy 2021: How India Can Bounce Back?

After the heroic effort at the Lord’s, Team India’s mediocre batting at Headingley brought England right back into the series. The host looked lackadaisical in the two Tests before Headingley, barring Joe Root and James Anderson, but now they have put the Indians under the pump. In the remaining two Test matches India have their backs to the wall with a lackluster middle order as the big elephant in the room. But, for India this is the best opportunity to win a series in England after a long time, they last won in 2007, as the home team is without some impact players such as Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer etc. So, what should India do to counter a revitalized English team? 

Bring On Ashwin 

Since the start of the Test series, Ravichandran Ashwin has been warming benches and watching the unfolding action from the sidelines. A player of his calibre should not be made to wait inordinately, especially for a critical series like the present one. Ashwin is at the moment second only to Pat Cummins (Australia) in the list of bowlers in Test cricket and fourth in the list of all-rounders in the longest format. Also, while playing for Surrey prior to the start of the Test Series, the Indian off-spinner got six wickets in the second innings to help bundle out Somerset for a mediocre 69. It is indeed a surprise that the team management chose to ignore a player with such an incredible record. So, Ashwin has to be in the playing XI from here onwards for India to stop marauding England in their tracks. 

The Middle Order Has To Come Good 

For far too long a pathetic middle order, especially in the Oz series 2020-21, has been more than compensated for by the formidable Indian bowling attack. Even in this series, the middle order comprising of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane has not lived up to its potential. None of the batters in the middle order, except for a brief period in Headingley and the Lord’s, have shown the resolve to put up a fight against the spirited English bowling attack. If India have to make an impact in the next two matches these batsmen have to score big even if the openers fail. Pujara averages a mere 32.40 in the current series and Rahane has a batting average of 27.75 from the last nine tests. These figures suggest why India has been unable to put up good totals despite getting good opening stands off late. 

Virat Must Lead From The Front 

Virat was omitted from the previous paragraph as he deserves an elaborate space due to his cult status in the cricketing world right now. As for the Indian captain, the ghost of the 2014 England series has come back to haunt him. In that series, he had become the bunny of James Anderson, who dismissed him five times in the five-match Test series. In this series, Anderson has already had him twice but it is the mode of dismissal that has been giving the Indian team sleepless nights for a while. Pushing at away-going deliveries pitched well outside the off-stump had been a thorn in Virat’s flesh in 2014 and even now it is scripting his downfall in the series. Virat needs to exorcise the ghost of the past immediately as his class and consistency are a must for India to bounce back strongly in the remainder of the Pataudi Trophy. 


When things start going down south as a team you can expect a lot of suggestions to improve. Even Team India is also receiving a lot of advice on how to pull things back. Some suggestions are welcome while some are unwarranted. So, India should not tinker too much with the team composition at this juncture based on the suggestions that are pouring in incessantly. Instead of making drastic changes the team management should encourage and assist the struggling middle order to play with more intent and positivity. Also, leave Rishabh Pant alone for the time being as he is keeping well behind the stumps, and the street-smart batting techniques he is known for will also come to the fore eventually. 

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