Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly believes that batting first on a green-top wicket at the Ageas Bowl might do wonders for Virat Kohli and company. Just like the third Test in Nottingham, Ganguly wants Indian batsmen to pile up runs and then put pressure on the fragile English batting line-up.
After being 2-0 down, India registered an emphatic 203-run victory over England at Trent Bridge to stay alive in the five-Test series. While the batters put on 300+ runs on the board in the first innings, the bowling attack led by all-rounder Hardik Pandya (5/28) did an exceptional job to bundle out England on 161.
The story remained the same in the second innings. Having secured a huge lead of 168, Indian batsmen piled on the agony and scored 352/7 (declared) in the second essay. Subsequently, the visiting bowlers bowled out England for 317 with Jasprit Bumrah (5/85) claiming a five-wicket haul.
“Absolutely, they can win the series. Every Test has seen a result and it should be the same. This is a big opportunity for India to make a comeback and take the series. But for that, they have to put pressure on the English team. I felt that batting first in the third Test was a blessing in disguise as the Indians seemed keen to bat second in both the first two games. You have to bat first, put up runs on the board and put pressure on the English batsmen. They are not in the best form at the moment and the Indians should look to exploit that,” Ganguly said in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
The outcome in Nottingham helped India to record their seventh Test victory on English soil. But it would not have been possible without the support of other batsmen. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara found their form and scored half-centuries.
Seeing the way Rahane batted in the first innings of third Test, Ganguly once again highlighted the importance of Mumbaikar in the national set-up not just in Tests, but also in the ODIs.
“I have no doubt that India needs Rahane in the middle-order in both Tests and ODIs. Being dropped after doing well in the shorter-format could have hurt his confidence. Rahane seems like someone who is a big confidence player and this is where Kohli’s role becomes important. He needs to put his arms around Rahane’s shoulder and give him that boost. In the past generation, most of the top players played both formats for India – Tests and ODIs. If after so many years, the team management still hasn’t been able to show him that confidence and faith, then that needs to be worked on immediately,” Dada opined.
Kohli’s was India’s top-scorer in both the innings at Trent Bridge. The Indian captain missed a century by just 3 runs in the first innings but he returned even stronger in the second dig to notch up his 23rd Test century (103). For his 200 runs in the match, Virat was adjudged Man of the Match.
When asked about Kohli, Ganguly said he simply loves the attitude and approach of India skipper on the field.
“I don’t wish to make comparisons or pass such statements on whether he reminds me of my younger days, but I must say he is just fantastic. One thing that is clear with him is his will to win. He just wants to win games for the country. He is such a positive character and I think that rubs off on the others as well. The vibe is positive and that is what counts,” he remarked.
India's seam bowlers claimed 19 of England's 20 wickets at Trent Bridge. Seeing the prowess of Indian pace attack on the tour of South Africa and in England thus far, a lot of cricket experts have already termed it as country’s best ever but Ganguly begs to differ.
“When we dominated the series in 2007, we had a quality bowling attack. Not to forget when we won the series in Pakistan, or levelled the series in Australia. So, I don’t think it will be right to say that this is the best bowling attack. But yes, there is no doubt that this attack is very good,” he concluded.