Birmingham, July 6
Facing probing questions from reporters after India failed to defend their overall lead of 377 runs in the Birmingham Test, head coach Rahul Dravid said it was disappointing to lose three consecutive Tests matches with modest bowling in the fourth innings.
Before Tuesday’s defeat to England, India had lost two consecutive Test matches in South Africa in January, failing to defend 239 in Johannesburg and 211 in Cape Town. In the first Test of the South Africa tour, India had set the home team a target of 305 and won.
"It's been disappointing for us," Dravid said. "I mean we had a couple of opportunities in South Africa as well and here as well. I just think it's something we need to look at, something we need to probably work on.”
We have been very good at that over the last few years, in terms of taking wickets and winning those Test matches. But, yeah, we haven't been able to do that over the last few months. It's been disappointing for us. I mean we had a couple of opportunities in South Africa as well and here as well. I just think it's something we need to look at. —Rahul Dravid, India Coach
“We have been very good at that over the last few years, in terms of taking wickets and winning those Test matches,” Dravid added. “But, yeah, we haven't been able to do that over the last few months. It could be a variety of factors… It could be maybe we just need to maintain that intensity, maintain that level of fitness, or maintain that level of performance right through a Test match."
In the three defeats, India had gone in with pace-heavy attacks, picking up combinations from among Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav. They used only one spinner in these Tests, Ravichandran Ashwin in South Africa and Ravindra Jadeja here in Birmingham.
In retrospect, after Thakur’s modest returns in the Birmingham Test, and listless bowling in the fourth innings, analysts wondered if Ashwin, with his variation, would have been more useful in Birmingham.
Dravid said India opted for Thakur over Ashwin because they thought the wicket would help pace bowlers through the game. "It is always not easy to leave someone like Ashwin out in a Test match,” Dravid said. “But having said that, when we looked at the wicket on the first day, it had a pretty good even covering of grass. We felt that there was enough in it for the fast bowlers.”
“It's easy to look back on the fifth day and say it would have been nice to have a second spinner in the fourth innings, but again it didn't really turn to justify that,” he added.
Dravid said the failure of the batsmen in the second innings, in which the top-order flopped again before the team lost the last seven wickets for 92 runs, hurt the team most. He said this had happened in South Africa as well.
"In the second innings, we have not batted as well," Dravid said. "If you look at all the third innings of these two Test matches overseas and this one, the batting has also probably not been up to scratch. In both areas, we have sort of started the Test matches well but we haven't been able to finish well. Yeah, we need to get better at that and certainly need to improve."
"They played well over the five days. We had our opportunities, we played well over the first three days. We couldn't maintain that,” he added. “That's why Test cricket is hard. And that's why Test cricket means that you have got to be able to keep putting those performances right through the five days. We were not able to do that and they did that better than us and they deserved to win this Test match.”
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