The Indian team 4 years ago saw a 4-0 humiliation in England and what followed was the same result in Australia as well. But what came back, in the long run, is the reversed result of 4-0 in their favour. And behind this success lies the realisations and the positives on which they built upon during the rough time which in the long run are giving the right results now!
And this series is one such for the visiting England team. After the retirement and loss of several experienced players, the visitors who came to the sub-continent to face one of the most stringent tests has a lot to cheer about and below are some such points.
Haseeb Hameed, a diamond explored: This name was not known to most of the people even in the cricketing circuit. But this debutant was nothing but just exceptional. The 19-year-old right-hand batsman, who opened alongside skipper Alistair Cook, showed no signs of discomfort or pressure playing in his first series. The Pakistan-origin lad had no traits that the present era batsmen have. He just made us remember Rahul Dravid, in all class, patience and technique! His gestures on and off the ground are just like that of a perfect gentleman and maybe that’s what helps be the right “Test” batsman.
Coming into the national team with 4 centuries and 11 50s in the mere 39 innings, he just continued that sublime form into the English team giving hope of a perfect future. Scoring an impressive 31 off 82 balls in his debut innings and a composed 82 off 177 balls along with their skipper playing a vital role in drawing the crucial first test was a booster for the youngster. His scores in the second test 13(50b) and the very crucial marathon 25(144b) just showed his capability to stay at the crease and help the team when needed. With failure in 9(31b),coming in at number 8 in the 3rd test, he has fought a tough battle scoring 59(176b) with the help of the tail enders playing for 170mins with the little finger of his left hand broken into “two pieces” with the injury he sustained in the 4th ball he faced in the 2nd innings of the Visakhapatnam test match. this noble and spirited effort by young Hameed made the cricketing world stay at all praise of the lad’s attitude and determination!
Adil Rashid gains experience and inspiration: The sub-continent is a heaven for spinners but when did we last see a non-subcontinental spinner make an impact? But nothing was expected this time as well! and yes, this time, none of the pitches even assisted spin. This just showed the maturity Adil Rashid gained so far! From making a wicketless debut innings against Pakistan (followed by 5-64 in the second innings, still, his best performance in an innings) in Dubai in 2015 Oct to the status of a “dependable” spinner that he gained this series, was not a sweet journey.
The series in Bangladesh, he just had the performance of his life following a bad test series(7 wickets in 4 innings), winning his first player of the match award for the match winning 4-34 in ODIs. He had a silent series this time as well but for his numbers that stay at 23 wickets in 5 matches just behind the Indian duo of Ashwin and Jadeja who finished with 28 and 26 wickets apiece. But what he gained this series was the crucial experience of bowling to spin-expert batsmen and in challenging situations when spin and conditions are not assisting. His glimpses with the bat (60 in 1st innings of 4th test and 32* in 1st innings of the 2nd test) also give the visitors a hope of a dependable spin-bowling all-rounder for the future. And yes, they would just wish Rashid gets inspired by the Indian trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and young Jayant Yadav and get something running with the bat too.
Joe Root and his growing maturity: This is not a new person we are talking about because he has been at the helm of the world for a long time with his form and too frequent good knocks. Playing against a formidable Indian spin trio which was wrecking the whole line-up was a huge challenge for him. There was a virtual battle with Virat Kohli for the top spots in Test rankings and he was no less scoring 491 runs in 10 innings with an average of 49.00 and a high score of 124 runs.
This series was way better than the one he had in Bangladesh but what he lacked here was the form throughout the game (he has not scored consecutive 30+ scores in any match). Even though Root couldn’t win them games, he showed resilience when the team required most and when all the other men were falling at the other end and this is the maturity that now pulls him into limelight as the best option to lead the England team for the future and yes he seemed to learn a lot this series being deputy to a legendary skipper like Alistair Cook.
Apart from these 3 aspects, there a lot of other things that England can feel about, like the partnerships between Stokes and Bairstow just to stop the fall of wickets and bring control over the matches at least from these limited over specialists is a lot to cheer even for the whole of cricket community. Keaton Jennings, another debutant opener this series has also impressed with the maiden century in his debut innings and a fifty in the final test, but what he lacks in the composure and the mindset to control aggression and that comes with experience that he’s gaining now. Performances of Chris Woakes (accurate short balls even on non-assisting pitches) and Moen Ali (381 runs in 9 inns, 2 100s, 1 50s and 10wickets, best: 3/98) are the little glows they had experienced in this devastating series.
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