Why Are England Underperforming In The Test Series?

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The fifth day of the second Test must go down as one of the tensest in Lord’s 207-year history, with England arriving with high hopes only to succumb to a painful, crushing defeat to this great India side.

Not much had changed on paper for this Indian team; by the end of the second Test, Virat Kohli’s men were 0-2 down and staring down the barrel. They’re up 1-0 this time, and it could easily have been 2-0 if it hadn’t been for a final-day downpour in Nottingham.

The club has demonstrated the tenacity that we expect from them recently, especially following a fantastic come-from-behind victory in Australia earlier this year.

Adding to England’s growing fragility, the prospects of a historic series victory for India in England are clear. 

The losses are causing uproar among fans who are seemingly upset as England is the favourite to win, but the outcomes are also reflected in the sports betting in the UK. It’s a loss for the players and betting fans who have not lost hope in their team. 

Game Changers

In 2018, India lacked Jasprit Bumrah in the first Test in Birmingham, which was played in ideal conditions. They were all out for 107 in the first innings of the second at Lord’s, leaving them with virtually no chance in the second. Bumrah has been on fire this time from the first ball, putting England on the back foot.

India was playing with Hardik Pandya at No. 7 as the fourth pacer three years ago. He did play a key role in India’s win in Nottingham with a fifer, but he’s not in the same league as Bumrah, Shami, or Ishant. The pace attack has been relentless this time. Mohammed Siraj, fresh addition to the 2018 assault, has been outstanding, taking 11 wickets.

England was 141-2 at lunch on the final day, needing 368 runs to win, but Jadeja and Bumrah struck twice as England lost four wickets for six runs, falling to 147-6.

There was no turning back now. Before tea, England lost two more wickets, including captain and top batsman Joe Root, who played on to recalled all-rounder Shardul Thakur for 36, on his way to the fourth hundred in four Tests.

Umesh Yadav, who came in for the injured Mohammed Shami, then cleaned up the tail to the delight of India fans in the sun-drenched south London.

Yadav, who took six wickets in the encounter, brought the game to a close shortly after tea when he had James Anderson caught behind off the new ball.

England was only 49 balls away from a draw, but there was a significant gap between the two teams on the day. Joe Root’s men had been set an improbable 272 to win in 60 overs courtesy of a maddening unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 89 from Mohammed Shami (56) and Jasprit Bumrah (34) before crumbling to 120 all out in response.

Bumrah was instrumental in securing India’s 1-0 lead, the bullwhip fast bowler’s earlier mischief with the bat followed by figures of three for 33 that included the pivotal removal of Root after tea for a top score of 33. Siraj tore through the lower middle order to claim four for 32, while Ishant Sharma’s two-afternoon strikes were vital.

India captain Virat Kohli
India captain Virat Kohli

But, as much as India’s seamers refused to give up, and KL Rahul was named player of the match for his 129 in the first innings, this third Test victory at Lord’s was etched in the image of Virat Kohli, their belligerent captain. For England, it was the first Test defeat to contain one of Root’s 22 hundred, with the joy that accompanied his unbeaten 180 on day three being replaced by a stony-faced admission that he failed tactically.

This occurred after a morning that defied all expectations, with India declaring 298 for eight after lunch. Rishabh Pant’s wicket was thought to be crucial to the match’s outcome, and when Ollie Robinson caught him behind for 22 and trapped Ishant lbw for 16, India was reduced to 209 all out. England was 182 runs ahead and two cheap tail-end wickets away from a target they wouldn’t turn down.

What To Do?

Root has spoken about ruthlessness and capitalizing on essential moments in games, but more practical things must improve in tandem with any shift in mentality. Taking a few extra catches might be beneficial.

For a few years now, England has had one of the most brittle slip cordons in the world, and frequent staff changes haven’t helped.

Taking ten wickets is difficult enough without squandering any opportunities that come your way. A more lucid strategy for dealing with the lower order is also required.

Plans have been a shambles, and India’s bottom four have changed the game much too frequently. England has to at least try and tie them down because failing is no longer an option.

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