Major role for Jadeja and Ashwin, says veteran Dilip Doshi
Southampton, June 20, 2021
Dilip Doshi, a former India left-arm spinner, has probably played more cricket in England than any other Indian, including enjoying successful county stints with Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. Under Covid restrictions, other than Sunil Gavaskar and Dinesh Kartik in the commentary box, he appears to be the only erstwhile India test player present at the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship.
After India were bowled out for a humbling 217 in their 1st innings, Doshi assessed: "India will have to give nothing away and fight for every run." He added: "I feel both (Ravindra) Jadeja and (Ravichandra) Ashwin have a major role to play in this game."
Virat Kohli can be forgiven for his dismissal, for he was beaten by a wicket-taking delivery to be leg before wicket. The same, though, cannot be said of Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane.
Compared to England, the ball bounces more in Australia, but swings and seams less. The Kookaburra balls used Down Under have flatter seams and lose their shine earlier compared to their Duke counterparts utilised in England. It is in such conditions that Pant distinguished himself over the winter.
However, in the challenging conditions he was called upon to deliver in this match, he failed to demonstrate the required application. He was beaten several times playing compulsive half-drives where a full face of a dead bat was the order of the day. Having seemingly got his eye in with an elegant drive to the midwicket fence, he wafted at a ball well away from his body to be caught at second slip.
Rahane's attacking century at Lord's on his maiden tour of England in 2014 remains the most impressive innings he's played on English wickets. Now he showed brief glimpses of his old fluency in an otherwise obdurate essay. There was a lot at stake in a situation loaded in favour of quicker bowlers.
However, on the brink of what would have amounted to a worthy 50, he attempted a short-arm pull off the front foot to be caught at square leg. The not unexpected bounce elicited a top edge. After Kohli's departure, this was an exit India could ill-afford.
While Ashwin is a gutsy batsman, his front foot drives are executed without either getting his head over the ball or his front pad close to the line of the ball. So, the ball often leaves his bat uppishly. Having got away with this lacuna, he played at one that curved away from to provide an outside edge.
It was a pace bowler's paradise for the greater duration of the Indian venture. Nonetheless, Kyle Jamieson's 22 overs, 12 maidens, a mere 31 runs and five wickets was an exhibition of sticking one's task and not squandering friendly circumstances. He moved the ball both ways and when not attacking the stumps, maintained a channel just outside off-stump, thereby causing uncertainty to batsmen.
Such were the conditions that the old ball was good enough to break the back of the Indian batting. The second new ball was only needed to mop up the lower order.
"Conditions were like home in New Zealand," Doshi remarked. But he admitted: "They (the Kiwis) bowled superbly throughout, putting enormous pressure on the Indian batsmen, with hardly a loose delivery."
On the Indian batting performance, he stated: "Even in these tough conditions (Rohit) Sharma, Kohli and Rahane excelled; (Shubman) Gill showed a lot of promise."
New Zealand have their task cut out, for they have to bat last in the match against Ashwin and Jadeja on a possible turning track.
(Senior cricket writer Ashis Ray is a broadcaster and author of the book 'Cricket World Cup: The Indian Challenge')