Friday, June 14, 2024

India must focus hard on Test cricket


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By Ian Botham

 The Indian lower order’s resilience ensured play on the fifth day and though not an innings defeat, this was another comprehensive Test win by England.

A win at Eden Gardens is a great feeling. What this does is narrow the points gap between England and the number one side South Africa. Over the last couple of years, the English team and the management have put a lot of focus on Test cricket and irrespective of the results, they have prepared well.

The results were seen when they won the Ashes in Australia and soon claimed the number one Test spot from India. They had a few hiccups in between, but they seem to be back on track. With another Test to go here, followed by the New Zealand series and the Ashes at home, this talented bunch of English cricketers will give it their best to reclaim the No. 1 spot.

Preparation prior to a series is extremely vital. England knew that touring the subcontinent is a huge challenge.

Playing India at home is never easy and hence they prepared hard. Practice matches help a lot to get acclimatised in many ways, especially in terms of understanding the conditions, weather, the wickets and the way of life.

Prioritising Test cricket is important for all the national boards; England does that and accordingly puts a lot of effort into preparation. I think it’s time that the BCCI also starts doing that.

India play a lot of limited-overs cricket, which is fine, but they need to play more and more Test matches.

They should focus hard on climbing back the ladders of ICC rankings and plan accordingly.

Not getting the right combination served as a lesson to the England team in the first Test at Ahmedabad, but they were quick to make the corrections.

I always believed Monty Panesar would be lethal in these conditions and the two seamers who should be playing all the Test matches had to be James Anderson and Steven Finn.

Had Monty and Finn been around in Ahmedabad, things could have been much better for England. But it was heartening to see the way England competed after being one down. A lot of credit goes to the ones who were expected to excel – skipper Alistair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.

Finn’s good performance with the ball and Ian Bell’s short outing in the second innings would give them a lot of confidence ahead of the next Test.

Based on the Indian domestic performances, there have been a couple of replacements made to the Indian side for the fourth Test, but we can only expect some serious changes if they lose the Test when some big questions will need to be answered.

All that the Indians can look for is to support each other and back themselves to do well while the English team will look to continue what they are doing.


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