Former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara feels it is unfair to label India as a one-man team and attributes the team’s debacle in the first two Tests against England to a lack of preparation.
England won the first two of the five Tests in Birmingham and Lord’s. At the home of cricket, the Indian batting order failed to get to 150 in either innings and there has been a suggestion that the famed Indian batting order banking a lot on skipper Virat Kohli scoring big.
“It is almost unfair to the other batsmen because we have seen Virat batting like he has for the last few years. It is incredible to watch and he is an incredible performer, but others are also fantastic players,” Sangakkara was quoted as saying by PTI.
“Pujara and Rahane are absolutely great batsmen. Pujara averages 50 [49.44] in Test cricket, Rahane averages 50 [48.05] overseas. Then, there are others. KL Rahul looks brilliant (when in form), Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik – these are no insignificant names.”
Preparation and consistency
India played a lone warm-up match before the Test series – at Chelmsford. It was overshadowed by a controversy after it was reduced to a three-day affair, and the lack of match time was not lost on Sangakkara.
“They have struggled here and one of the reasons could be lack of preparation. So they really need to think hard because you cannot prepare while you are playing the Test matches. You have to find that confidence to answer the questions asked by English bowlers in training and in practice games. English bowlers have exploited the usual sub-continental weaknesses here and that has created more questions than answers for the Indian side.”
Even so, it marked the 37th time in as many Tests that Kohli fielded a different playing eleven. “They haven’t played the same side for now 37 Tests, so that goes a lot to say how things are. I am not saying that it is a bad thing but sometimes in Test cricket batsmen and bowlers need consistency in selection. It gives you confidence, trust and the courage to go out there to perform for the side.”
“Some times changing and chopping is not a negative thing, and sometimes it can be a negative thing. But a change always has to be tactical (not for the heck of it).”
Captain Kohli will get better
The question of communication within the Indian dressing room has come under the spotlight recently. Former skipper Sourav Ganguly too opined on air that there aren’t many expressive personalities in the team currently. Elsewhere there have been suggestions that Kohli’s aggressive persona could be a factor too.
Sangakkara though was of the opinion that Kohli’s aggression is focussed entirely on cricket and is good for the modern-day game. “I have been lucky to spend a little bit of time with Virat off the field. I don’t think he is intense at all. I find him absolutely wonderful to talk to; he is very open. He has other interests outside of cricket and is not just concentrating on the game all the time, which I think is great because that’s why he plays so brilliantly on the field.”
“When he plays cricket, he is 100 percent focussed on it. He wears his heart on the sleeve, is very passionate and it is great not just for him but also his side, and cricket at large. And I think he is a very good captain, and will get better as time goes along. Everyone has a few weaknesses here and there. He has been a one-man army for India for a while, in terms of weight of runs.