Team India, after suffering a massive loss in the 2nd Test at Lord’s, could have easily lost hope. Being 2-0 down in the 5-match series, it was a difficult road ahead for Virat Kohli and his men. The horrors of the previous 2 England tours were hovering over the team yet again. The experts had written them off due to the poor showings thus far.
But the 11 men believed and played like the No.1 Test team in the world. It was a massive turnaround from team India in the 3rd Test at Trent Bridge that ended up winning the match quite comprehensively. A victory by 203 runs just shows that this team is capable of winning Tests overseas.
But how did such a change happen? It wasn’t just an individual or two who performed like the previous occasions but it was a collective team effort that made it possible.
Let’s take a look at the 5 reasons why Team India inflicted a comeback
#1 Openers stepped up
The biggest issue that team India was encountering in the recent overseas Tests was the opening partnership. There was consistent chopping and changing amongst the 3 openers. Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay and KL Rahul couldn’t put together substantial stands for so long. Vijay failed miserably in the 2nd Test and bagged a pair and as a result, he was omitted from the 3rd Test.
The pitch at the start of day 1 had a lot of live grass. Dhawan and Rahul were prepared to grind it out this time and didn’t throw away their wickets. They stood together for 18.4 overs and gathered 60 runs that gave the Indian middle-order a platform to build upon. Due to the good start, India ended up scoring a competitive 329.
In the second innings, when the visitors had a lead of 168 runs, the openers came out with an intent. They went after the bowlers and put the opposition further in trouble. Another stand of 60 in just 11 overs saw India take complete control of the game. Even though none of the openers scored a half-century, yet the fifty-run partnerships in either innings proved to be so crucial.
#2 Pujara-Rahane back to being the usual
India’s batting in the longest format of the game has been dependent heavily on Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the previous years. But a dip in form for both the batsmen meant India struggled for runs in the middle order. Pujara had played County cricket this year but didn’t account for too many runs. He wasn’t even a part of the playing XI in the first Test.
He did find a place at Lord’s but just like other batsmen, he and Rahane failed to deliver. But the scenario was different at Trent Bridge. In the first innings, when India were down to 82/3, Rahane put his hand up and hung in there with the skipper. He scored 81 runs and added 159 runs for the 4th wicket.
It was Pujara’s turn in the second innings. After losing both the openers, Pujara and Kohli added 113 runs for the 3rd wicket and ran away with the game from the hosts. Pujara scored 72 runs from 208 and it was his typical knock where he put in the hard yards for each run. If Rahane and Pujara continue to bat like this in the upcoming 2 Tests, India have a good chance of even winning the series.
#3 Kohli’s determination with the bat
Before the series, all the talk of the town was the horrendous tour of England for Virat Kohli in 2014. But the Modern Master has hit back at his critics with some serious performances. After scoring a ton in the first Test, he carried on with the good form at Trent Bridge too. He scored a crucial 97 in the first innings and played a pivotal role in taking team India to 329.
He missed the century but you can’t keep Kohli away from 3 figures for long. It took him just one more inning to reach the landmark. He made 103 runs in the 2nd innings and brought up his 23rd Test ton. The 103 runs came off 197 balls which proved to be his 4th slowest Test century ever.
He was determined to play a long knock and the approach to occupy the crease was visible. It was due to his efforts that India made good scores in both the innings. For his tremendous dual show, he was adjudged the Man of the Match.
#4 Jasprit Bumrah’s wonder return
Jasprit Bumrah had made his Test debut in South Africa earlier this year and played a key role in the Johannesburg Test that team India won. But unfortunately, he injured his finger in the Ireland T20I series and as a result, the pacer missed the limited-overs leg of the England tour as well as the first 2 Tests.
The visitors dearly wanted him to be back. As soon as he was fit, he was drafted straightaway into the XI. His effect was evident as he picked up 2 crucial wickets in the first innings. But his major contribution arrived in the 2nd innings when he bagged the important wickets of Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow and ended up with 5 wickets.
#5 Hardik Pandya being himself
After some average showings in the first 2 Tests, Hardik Pandya was being criticized for not fitting into the all-rounder’s role. His comparisons with the legendary Kapil Dev had made the things worse for him. But the 24-year-old answered his critics in style. He picked up 5 wickets in the first innings and inflicted a massive collapse that saw England being bowled out for 161.
It was a superb display of swing bowling from Pandya who claimed his maiden Test fifer. To follow it up with the bat, he scored a half-century in the 2nd innings. It was Pandya being the one he should be. After a glittering show, he addressed the media and urged people not to compare him with Kapil Dev and let him be who he is. But if he keeps turning up with such performances, even Kapil Dev won’t mind the comparisons.