But any such possibility was nipped in the bud pretty quickly by the England bowlers as India suffered just their fourth defeat at home in the last decade. While there is not a lot India could have done to counter the brilliance of James Anderson, skipper Virat Kohli believes that it is the first innings that made all the difference.
Kohli pinpointed a lack of application from the batting unit and not enough pressure being created by the support bowlers – Shahbaz Nadeem and Washington Sundar – as reasons for their downfall.
“I think the Test shifted in their favour when we batted in the first innings. We were looking to bat long and we weren’t able to do that. There was not enough application shown from us as a batting unit,” a dejected Kohli offered his assessment after the defeat.
Kohli was equally critical of India’s bowling in the first innings. While the pitch was flat and Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin did their best under the circumstances, he felt that Nadeem and Washington offered too many scoring opportunities to the English batsmen.
“As a bowling unit, we did not bowl well collectively. The pacers and Ashwin bowled in good areas. But if Nadeem and Washi were equally economical, then there would have been more pressure on England. The first innings made the difference,” said the 32-year-old, who has suffered his fourth consecutive loss as India captain.
One of the other issues that again came to the fore in this Test was the poor quality of the SG ball, with the seam coming apart once the ball became a little old. On the first two days – when the pitch was placid – it made the bowlers’ task even more difficult.
“The quality of the ball did not please us. It has been an issue in the past as well. For the seam of the ball to be completely destroyed in 60 overs is not something you experience as a Test side,” Kohli said.
No regrets on not playing Kuldeep, says Virat
One of the talking points regarding India’s playing XI for the first Test was to do with the omission of chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. Shahbaz Nadeem – who was drafted into the squad only after an injury to Axar Patel – got the nod ahead of Kuldeep. Although Nadeem did not have a good outing with the ball, Kohli insisted that he had no regrets over the decision. With two off-spinners in R Ashwin and Washington Sundar playing, Kohli said they wanted someone who predominantly spins the ball away from the right-hander.
“We have no regrets on the Kuldeep call. With two off-spinners there, Kuldeep predominantly also spins the ball into the right-hander. You need variety in the bowling attack. Moving forward too, we will think of combinations that bring variety rather than being one-dimensional,” he said.