There is a new hero in England and its captain’s favorite hardik pandya. The lad gave his best performance of all time in a match that could be the disaster decider for Captain Kohli’s side.
Despite not being able to impress with his performance, hardik was in the playing list and Nottingham witnessed while he proved his worth in the team and took the English batsmen head on. Pandya became the second fastest Indian to take a five-wicket haul when he took just 29 balls to rattle the hosts. Harbhajan Singh is the only other bowler to take five wickets in fewer balls for India than Hardik Pandya’s 29 balls on Sunday.
Pandya produced an inspired spell of bowling to record his best figures in Test cricket. Pandya had come under criticism earlier for lack of contributions with the ball and for failing to justify his position in the Test team with the bat. Before the start of the third Test, Michael Holding had come out and questioned Hardik Pandya’s place in the Indian team. He had said that Pandya is not yet the all-rounder India wants him to be, because he is ineffective as a bowler and also not scoring enough runs with the bat.
Incidentally, Pandya was the second highest run-scorer in the Indian side after the first two Test matches of the series – both which India lost.
One wrong turn at Nottingham, and the Indian cricket team could bump into panic. Not administered by them, but it might be taken out of their hands by the selectors who could press for young stars from the India A squad. The Test series is at one such vital tipping point: this team has been selected for the first three Tests and if you go down 0-3 in a five-match series, suddenly it might seem the world is against you.
It’s clear what the team needs: A solid opening partnership, a good middle- order batsman to stand with Virat Kohli. And they need to make better use of the best all-rounder in the team, R Ashwin. It will come to whether the batsmen can put up something around 275 to 300 to give their bowlers a fighting chance. The situation India find themselves demands a display of character that accomplished athletes often talk about. Ravi Shastri is a passionate proponent of it but how will this Indian team look at it? The think tank is confident that a good result can stir a revival and that the rest of the team is on the same page as them – the reality of their assessment of other players will decide the course of things.
Have they been able to derive confidence from the close-run affair at Edgbaston, shrug away the debacle at Lord’s and re-focus all over again? Sometimes, it’s not blustery confidence but an ability to forget that does the trick. It’s not as if the England batting, especially their top order, has been any good. Even at Lord’s, on a rare sunny day, they had lost the first four for not much. The lower order has been pretty good but without runs on the board, the Indian bowlers too have ended up losing some sting as the innings dragged on. It’s difficult when that the lead is already 150 to retain the ruthlessness and discipline to finish things off. The onus is on the batsmen to rally around their bowlers. The players need to wrest control in the middle to prevent thing spiralling out of control. The good thing is that this team still has it in them to do it. It hasn’t reached the horror levels of certain overseas tours of the past. Cricket is still at the forefront, which can never be a bad thing.