Decrying a “meek surrender” and “heartbreak” defeat, Indian newspapers said on Monday that Virat Kohli’s world number one Test side had only themselves to blame for their series defeat in England.
“The cherished dream of staging one of the greatest comebacks in modern cricket history could so easily have been fulfilled but some spineless batting saw Kohli’s men crashing to another series loss away from home,” the mass-circulation Times of India wrote.
Mail Today bemoaned India’s “meek surrender” and the Times of India said it was a heartbreak that will not be easy to deal with.
Kohli’s side needed 245 to win the fourth Test in Southampton but they were bundled out for 184 after tea Sunday, giving the hosts a 3-1 lead with one match left to play.
India faltered with the bat in both the innings against England, triggering questions about their temperament and technique.
The Indian Express headlined its story: “Almost, but not good enough” and said the loss should both hurt and teach. “They have a band of men that comes close but falters, can’t cross over,” the English-language daily said.
The papers concurred with Kohli that challenging rivals is not enough and that India must find ways to win close matches.
The Hindustan Times said the bowlers had given momentum to India’s push for overseas success but the “batsmen haven’t stood up, leaving far too much to the class and consistency of skipper Virat Kohli”.
Kohli has been the leading batsman in the five-Test series with his tally of 544 runs at an average of 68, including two hundreds.
England’s press, meanwhile, toasted the success of Joe Root’s team, with Moeen Ali coming in for a lot of praise. “This was a sensational return to the side by the most popular of England cricketers inside or outside the dressing room,” wrote The Guardian. “It was also a reminder of the virtue of picking players in excellent form in Championship cricket. The constitution of England’s best Test side remains a curious conundrum but Moeen is now most definitely in it again.”
Former England captain Michael Atherton, writing for The Times, also focused on what Ali’s performance could mean for England going ahead. “Given an opportunity at No 3 in the second innings as well, Ali has again become central to England’s planning after a winter in which his confidence and enjoyment of the game all but evaporated,” Atherton wrote.
“It remains doubtful that England see him as a permanent No 3, especially given his likely workload as a bowler in the winter in Sri Lanka and the West Indies, but his all-round qualities were given vivid expression again here and it was good to see him enjoying his cricket again,” he added.
The Independent wrote that Ali’s match-winning display gives Root and England’s selection panel a dilemma ahead of the fifth Test considering Chris Woakes is on the verge of a return to the side. “...England now have the task of balancing their faltering batting while providing Root with the bowling variety he favours,” the report said.
Here are some of the other headlines in UK’s back pages.
With inputs from AFP