Vikram Rathour has stated that the Indian batsmen’s lack of a viable strategy against England’s short ball barrage cost them in the second innings of the Test at Edgbaston. He discussed the need for better preparation in the future, while claiming the game can still swing either way on the last day.
After putting up a commendable total of 416 in the first innings, the Indian batting order crumbled for just 245 in the second innings. A major factor behind their collapse was England’s effective use of the short ball, especially against the lower order batsmen. The host bowlers took four of ten wickets in the second innings through short balls, after having also caught out Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli earlier with extra bounce.
Indian head coach Vikram Rathour felt the Indian batsmen failed to deal with England’s plan appropriately, falling victim to lack of execution.
"Yes, they used a short-ball plan against us in the field. We had to show a little better, not intent, but strategy. We could've handled it slightly differently. People tried to play shots but didn't really convert or execute them well enough. They got out to that. We will have to rethink how we handle that next time in a similar situation, against similar bowlers who keep similar fields. We will need to have a better strategy against them," explained Rathour during a press conference.
This wasn’t the first time India had encountered these bowling tactics of late. In their tour of South Africa earlier in the year, the Proteas had employed a similar approach, managing similar success. However, the Indian batsmen did look comfortable against the short ball in the first innings of the ongoing Test, but simply could not achieve the same level of execution on day four.
"Of course, at this level you expect people to bowl short against us, and especially against the Indian team, people have been using the short ball for quite some time. People have their own ways of handling that. As a batter, you have your own way to deal with that. We don't really say you have to do this or do that. As a batter, you need to decide, according to your game, what suits you in that situation and in those conditions. Unfortunately, today we couldn't really execute whatever plans we had," Rathour revealed.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant were the only Indians to register half-centuries, with Ravindra Jadeja being the only other batsmen to score more than 20 runs. The innings’ highest partnership was a rather paltry 78 for the fourth wicket between Pujara and Pant.
"I'll agree that we had a pretty ordinary day as far as batting is concerned. We were ahead in the game. We were in a position where we really could've batted them out of the game. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. A lot of them got starts but really couldn't convert. We were expecting one of them to play a big knock and have a big partnership but unfortunately, it didn't happen like that," Rathour said.
England currently find themselves at a comfortable 259/3, chasing a target of 378. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are at the crease on 76 and 72 respectively, seeming set to chase down the remaining 119 runs with relative ease. However, Rathour believes a couple of early wickets will allow India to be back in the fight for victory.
"Two wickets in the morning early and again the game will open up. We know that, we understand the game, it is a big target still. It's still more than 100 runs. We take two wickets early and the game can still open up. The kind of bowling Shami and Bumrah are doing, it's not beyond them that they get one wicket, then one, two, three can fall. And that can bring us back in the game."