Having seen India lose embarrassingly by an innings and 159 runs at Lord's before finishing second in a closely contested encounter at Edgbaston, former Indian Captain Sourav Ganguly has said that with the visitors being 2-0 down and looking down the barrel, it is time for India's batting to stand up and make impactful performances.
Either side of Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hardik Pandya to a lesser extent, India's batting unit has looked woefully out of depth against the swing and seam threat of James Anderson and co. While struggles of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan on another tour outside Asia doesn't come across as surprising, alarmingly even previously proven all-conditions players like Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay have failed.
This is when, Sourav says, batsmen must show a lot of gumption and fortitude.
“The third Test will test India’s resilience. Virat and his boys have had a tough time, especially at Lord’s, countering the swing bowling but they need to remember that in South Africa they came back strongly to win the third Test." wrote Ganguly in his column for Times of India, "They are 0-2 down, but there are still three matches to go, which is a lot of cricket. If rain does not take three days away, all the games will have results,”
“Much has been spoken about the capability of the Indian batsmen to battle it out in difficult conditions, but at Lord’s, it was the supreme ability of Anderson and company which got the better of them. What hurt the Indian fans, however, was the lack of fight rather than the loss. This team is much better than the way they have played so far.”
Ganguly also thinks, "The mind has to believe that (we can win). A lot is being said about Kohli’s influence, but he alone will not win matches. Tendulkar did not." and added, "India played sensationally well in that era because the players around him scored as well. Vijay, Pujara, Rahane, Rahul, and Dhawan have to believe; they have done it earlier in difficult situations and only that belief can help them change the mental frame they are in,"
Emphasising the need for good solid starts, Ganguly believes it is important for openers, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, to get going.
“India will need a good start at the top which has not happened yet. Whether a Dhawan instead of Vijay will help them to counter-attack is another question, but whoever is entrusted with the job will need to stand tall and that will provide respite to the middle-order to take the fight back to England,” said "Dada" as he is fondly called, and added, “There is a chance that Dhawan might play and if he does, the big booming cover drives have to be put away. He needs mental discipline to play other shots which he is capable of and play much more on the back foot. Will India play Karun Nair as the sixth batsman? That could be a good option.”
(With TOI Inputs)