Five things we learnt from India's win over England

Nitin Fernandes 17:54 21/11/2016
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Virat Kohli was named the Man of the Match.

Having been taken aback by a dominant performance from England in the first Test, India brought their A-game to the second match of the series at Visakhapatnam (Vizag), which they won by 246 runs.

Here, we look at five things that stood out during the Vizag Test.

KOHLI LETS GO OF PAST DEMONS

Virat Kohli has been one of the best batsmen in world cricket over the last few years, but when up against England, he has often been a sitting duck. In fact, before the start of this Test series, Kohli averaged just over 20 in nine Tests against them.

The Indian captain, though, seems to have turned things around. After a 40 and an unbeaten 49 at Rajkot, the latter playing an important part in the hosts salvaging a draw, Kohli moved up a couple of gears in the second Test.

Kohli notched up his second Test century against England in the first innings, showing the ideal balance between patience and aggression with his batting. In the second essay, when no other Indian batsman crossed 30, Kohli scored 81 – a knock that would put England out of the game.

Deservingly, Kohli was named the Man of the Match – his first such award since becoming captain and his third in his Test career.

NOT THE WORST PITCH PRODUCED IN INDIA RECENTLY

After a flat deck was handed out in the Rajkot Test, there were a lot of suggestions that a rank turner would be produced at Vizag. If the ODI between India and New Zealand last month was anything to go by, one would have expected the Test to end a day or two early.

Instead, the Vizag Test lasted all five days. One must say that England’s resilience with the bat also played a big part in that.

Nevertheless, this pitch was definitely not as bowler-friendly as some of the other pitches we have seen in India over the last 12 months. There was uneven bounce since day two which the batsmen struggled to keep up with, but weren’t quite the square turners that we sometimes seen in the series against South Africa last year.

Even in the recent Test series between India and New Zealand, the first two Tests did not see a single innings with a 400+ total nor did any batsman register a hundred. Both of those milestones happened at Vizag.

COOK, STILL A THORN IN INDIA’S FLESH

English captain Alastair Cook has had an illustrious career with the bat, clocking over 10,000 runs in Test cricket. His performances in India, though, have been even more impressive.

In India, the 31-year-old has 1073 runs to his name at an average of 59.61 – a record that is matched by nearly no other visiting batsman. While Joe Root is the poster boy of English cricket currently, it’s no surprise that the Indians fear Cook the most in the batting line-up.

In the first innings at Vizag, Cook was bowled by an unplayable delivery from Mohammed Shami. But in the second innings, it looked like nothing would get past him.

Cook batted for 188 deliveries, scoring 54, in an innings where he showed all of his high-class skill and temperament in trying conditions. He fell in the last over on day four and that was surely the moment India knew they had won the Test.

JAYANT YADAV MAKES AN IMPRESSIVE DEBUT

India’s strategy of going in with five bowlers saw Amit Mishra play the role of the third spinner in the first Test. After a poor performance from the leg-spinner, the Indian think-tank turned to Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav for the Vizag Test.

Jayant had never played a Test for India before, but if one saw his performance, they’d think that he was playing the game at the highest level for ages.

A handy batsman as well, Jayant’s knocks of 35 and 27* were crucial in taking the game away from England. With the ball, Jayant took the wicket of Moeen Ali in the first innings, before picking up three scalps in the second.

He also executed the run-out of Haseeb Hameed on day two, a moment that caused a middle-order collapse as England went from 51/1 to 80/5.

ENGLAND NEED A NEW NUMBER FOUR

After repeated failures from Gary Ballance on the tour of Bangladesh, it was Ben Duckett who was given the responsibility of slotting in at number four for the tourists.

Duckett, though, has failed to make an impression with his scores in the series so far reading 13, 5, 0. The most concerning part for the left-handed batsman is that his technique has been badly exposed while facing the off-spin of Ravichandran Ashwin who has dismissed him on all three occasions.

England will in all likeliness be looking at other options now, with Jos Buttler the favourite to replace Duckett in the eleven. If Buttler does come into the team, England would probably be looking to play him at number four which could be a mistake.

It might be a better idea to promote the in-form Jonny Bairstow to number four and make Buttler keep wicket and replace the Yorkshireman at number seven.

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