Cricket is a great game. From Lords to Leeds Indian cricket team's fortunes have fluctuated similar to the waves of an ocean on a full Moon day. The euphoria of Lord's victory was blown away after their pathetic performance in the fourth Test match against England.
The brittleness of Indian batting was once again thoroughly exposed as the Indian batting line up crumbled like ninepins within a span of few overs in both the innings.
On the other hand the poor performance of Indian batsmen especially in the first innings lifted the spirits of the English batsmen whose openers grew in confidence, whose performance hitherto was at rock bottom. The one week gap between second and third Test matches has done a world of good for England cricketers more than their Indian counterparts.
It seems the Pom's team came up with a clear game plan to dominate the Indian team in all departments. England made two changes for the third Test and both players gave decent performances to their team. The Indian team's inability to cope with the moving ball on the fourth and fifth stump line in England bowling conditions caused great damage for India in their batting in both the innings. The success mantra for Indian batsmen in seaming conditions of England is that Indian batsmen have to be patient enough to negotiate the outside off stump line bowling in the form of leaving alone without pouncing on the deceiving line bowling attack. Indian bowlers also did not exploit the pitch better than their English counterparts, which paved the way for an innings defeat for them.
It is evident from the post match press conference of Virat Kohli that there may be some changes for the fourth Test based on performance and also to manipulate the workload of Indian pacers. Some veteran Indian cricketers are of the opinion that Team India should include one more batsman to bolster middle order batting at the expense of one specialist bowler although Virat Kohli is always banking on five specialist bowlers whatever may be the pitch conditions. Under these circumstances it is very interesting to see how team India will make a resurgence in the next Test match so as to take an upper hand in the ongoing Pataudi Trophy. Virat himself is under pressure as he was in a century drought for so many months and a big century will definitely be due. Virat's front foot play is making him vulnerable against average bowlers like Tom Curran. Besides, an innings defeat in the previous Test match definitely haunting him and his team mates.
In the 2003-04 series against Aussies, Sachin Tendulkar had his failure against off side moving balls and had low scores of 0,1,37,0 and 44. He came against this weakness in the next Test match by staying at the wicket for 613 minutes and facing 436 balls and in the process he scored a brilliant unbeaten 241 runs. During his marathon innings he didn't attempted not even a single drive on the outside off side moving balls. Virat and his team has to take a cue out of it and emulate it to overcome their weakness against moving balls. As far as Virat is concerned, one big innings by Kohli in the remaining innings of the current series can turn the tide and change his fortunes.
The England cricket team performed exceptionally well to defeat India at Leed's after their demoralising defeat at Lord's. Now it is the turn for India to give it back to their opponents in their own coin. In their previous tours of Australia and England (home series) Indian cricket team struck back with vengeance with magnificent victories after losing the initial test matches at Adelaide and Chennai respectively. Now to achieve the same feat Indian cricketers have to rally around their skipper with great intent as they have done it on the last day of Lord's cricket Test.
V. Nagendra Kumar is a Sports Analyst