Jekyll and Hyde' India: Why India Have Dominated the ODI Series Against England?
Cricket probably has never become so mysterious as in the recent India Vs England tour. India who suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat in the recently concluded test series have suddenly not just bounced back but have dominated completely in the 2 ODIs. The batsmen rotated the strike, the bowlers pitched in the right areas, the spinners did their part of running through the lower order and the fielders checked the boundaries brilliantly. There can be two reasons to it.
One that the Indian team has undergone some out of the world transformational training where suddenly they seem to do everything right, which is highly unlikely. The second and the most probable reason is that India play to their strengths in ODIs but do not have the depth or experience to continue such a form over 5 days in a Test match. This is a matter of concern indeed. The void left by the departure of Tendulkar and Ganguly from the ODI squad has been well taken care of but the same void in the Test matches is yet to be filled. This scenario can arise only from the fact that players are not getting enough exposure to international cricket, and when I say international exposure I do not mean IPL or other such T20 leagues. A true international exposure means county cricket or at a still granular level domestic cricket.
The problem which the English are facing is that they do not have quality spinners to play against in counties. So when they face the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja with their vociferous turns and flights they crumble. When India consistently kept on scoring runs, there was a time while England were batting when they had not scored a boundary for 24 overs. The Indian batsmen came to the crease with an intent of scoring in every ball .They knew which balls to take on and which balls to leave.
England might have good batsmen, but they will have a tough time against Dhoni and India as long as they don’t find batsmen who can milk the spinners for 80-90 runs for 20 overs without losing more than two wickets. It involves use of the feet and wrists to manoeuvre the ball either side of that short straight mid wicket and cover. You can’t develop that skill overnight. England might need a quick fix. Cook might be right that overall strategy is not at fault, but they need an out-of-the-box plan that veers India from these set pieces. One of those plans could be the early Powerplay.
India on the other hand have been doing everything right in ODIs. They have the right mix of players. They have a decent bowling line up which was not so a few years back. The problem with the opening stand still exists and so is the inability to make early inroads. But the bigger question which the Indian think tank needs to ponder upon is the fact as to why is this success not translating in Test matches and where exactly are they missing something?