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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Mastering the English 'Test': A tale of crafting legacy and forging futures

India's spin brilliance and new-generation cricketers take center stage, outclassing England's 'Bazball' narrative in a memorable Test series

Subharup Das Sharma Dharamshala (HP) Published 09.03.24, 05:03 PM
Indian players celebrate with trophy after winning the fifth Test cricket match over England, in Dharamsala, Saturday, March 9, 2024. India win the five-match series 4-1

Indian players celebrate with trophy after winning the fifth Test cricket match over England, in Dharamsala, Saturday, March 9, 2024. India win the five-match series 4-1 PTI picture

A spectacle, ripe with cricketing brilliance, saw India's strategic excellence and individual endeavour upstage the ‘Bazball’ fervour of England, in a series as much about cricketing legacy as the emergence of new heroes. We dissect the fabric of the series, the moments and performances that defined India's victory.

In a dramatic culmination, India delivered a historic performance against England, securing a resounding innings and 64-run victory in Dharamshala. This win in the final Test, marked by Ravichandran Ashwin's spectacular five-wicket haul in his 100th Test, underlined India's dominance, clinching crucial World Test Championship points and solidifying their No. 1 position on the WTC points table.

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Strategic mastery and individual brilliance

India’s series win was a triumph of strategy, as epitomised by Ravichandran Ashwin’ s sensational 5-wicket haul in his 100th Test. Ashwin’s guile, delivering India’ innings and 64-run victory in the final Test of the series, was symbolic of the hosts’ total domination, as their spin twin punished England’ batting ineptitude and then some, in hands-down the greatest exhibition of off-spin in the history of Test cricket.

Forced by injuries to Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami, it was India’ veteran campaigners, Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma, who took over. Bumrah, in for Sharma, had to balance out the team and led the bowling to boot, as an all-weather India again proved to be the ultimate survivor. Sharma’s leadership and runs, coupled with Bumrah’s fire-‘n’-fury spells, showcased both’s indispensability to the cause of Team India.

New kids on the block

The series also saw the canvas for the emergence of India's next generation of cricketers. The likes of Dhruv Jurel and Sarfaraz Khan made their mark, showing that India’s bench strength remains as robust and ready to deliver as their peers. Alongside them, Shubman Gill, Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav again led with example, showcasing the power of Indian cricket’s new mixed-baggage.

If truth be told, India’s batting depth — even in absence of marquee players — was a testimony to their preparation and new crop of cricketers ready to storm the international stage. Yashasvi Jaiswal epitomized aggression with maturity — encapsulating the bright future of Indian cricket.

While for India, it was the consummate affirmation of an ethos that was integral to their cricketing heart, for England, it was a lesson in unrelenting, unforgiving measures; a watershed of evolution that ultimately uncorked a very English palette of shrewdness; unmasking the essentialness of a cricketing identity forever wedded in their stature.

Death of Bazball?

For England, the series was a reality check, emphasizing the challenges of playing in the subcontinent and the need to reassess their tactical approach. Despite the aggressive intent, the English batting lineup struggled against the quality of India's spin and pace attack. The series, particularly the final match, underscored the importance of building innings and adapting strategies to different conditions.

However, on the brighter side, The series showed resilience of the visitors, especially during troubling phases, epitomised by Joe Root’s outstanding performances with an orthodox, classical batting style. It was, however, a clear case of England’s tactical failings as an inability to counter India’s spin wizards ensured that Ben Stokes’ leadership will be tested to the hilt to adapt the ‘Bazball’ philosophy against flexible and strategic Indian outfit.

During the post-match interview, England skipper Ben Stokes, acknowledged the superiority of the Indian team, emphasizing the learning curve for England and the potential for growth. Only time would tell if England could really learn from the mistakes they have made in their series to bounce back in their upcoming games.

The Indian team's success was a collective effort, with contributions across the board. Kuldeep Yadav's performance, especially, stood out, earning him the player of the match in the final game. His ability to leverage conditions and outfox the English batsmen added a critical edge to India's bowling attack.

Statistical insights into the match revealed the stark contrast in performance between the two teams, with India's comprehensive first-innings lead setting the stage for their victory. England's aggressive pursuit of quick runs led to their undoing, as highlighted by their frenetic batting pace in the second innings, which ultimately resulted in their collapse.

As dust settles, comparative analysis with past performances underscored the significance of this victory for India and the need for England to reassess their strategies ahead of future challenges. The conclusion of this series not only marks a triumphant moment for Indian cricket but also sets the stage for both teams to build on their experiences as they look forward to their next encounters in the ever-evolving landscape of international cricket.

The win also had significant implications for the World Test Championship where India further consolidated their position at the top of the table. If the series victory was a statement on India’s capacity for world domination through a mixture of battle-hardened campaigners and an emergence of a band of cricketers ready to conquer en mass, WTC (World Test Championship) leadership took them to the summit, underlining their red ball aspirations and the challenges ahead.

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