Indian pace bowlers did a remarkable job in the first two Tests, at Trent Bridge and Lord’s, often out-bowling their English counterparts in their own backyard. However, there was a marked difference in their performance in the third Test.
India lost Ishant Sharma to injury and his absence was felt. Pankaj Singh bowled his heart out but went wicketless on his Test debut. And MS Dhoni admitted after the match that Bhuvneshwar Kumar was a bit tired after the workload in the first two matches.
“The match will really tell us how fresh they really are. In the break, best we could have managed is work on fitness and manage their workloads, and we have done that really well. So I hope that when we turn up on the field they will be fresh and raring to go,” Dhoni said.
Although Dhoni rued his bowling attack’s inability to pick 20 wickets in Southampton, he also puts the onus on his batsmen to give the bowlers a comfortable cushion of runs to play with.
“It is very important to pick 20 wickets to win a Test but we cannot forget that it is also important to score runs,” the captain said. “If u get 500-550 runs, the opposition batsmen will be under pressure unless they bat well for two-three sessions.
It is important in cricket that the pace of scoring and getting wickets is in balance. If opposition gets more than three runs per over but are losing wickets regularly it is good because they won’t get a lot of runs. We have worked on it over the last couple days and strategy wise things are looking positive.”
On his bowling combination for the fourth Test, Dhoni sad, “We couldn’t take a lot of wickets in the last match, dropped a few catches as well and it didn’t look like we will take 20 wickets on that pitch. So we will see how the wicket is and then we will see who our best four-five bowlers are on this pitch.”
If India are to bat England out, they will need more runs from the blades of the likes of Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. While Pujara has one half-century against his name, Virat has been struggling to get past the 30s.
Dhoni feels a big knock is just “around the corner” for his No. 4 batsman. “What you need to see is that Virat is batting really well,” Dhoni said. “At times you get out to good deliveries or you just get out. But I feel he is batting well and is looking in good nick. So, it is just a matter of time.
“He may not have converted his starts into big innings but the kind of talent he is we know a big score is around the corner and he will come strong.
The skipper also believed a dull patch like this will help Virat grow as a batsman. “Also, this is a phase that will improve him as a cricketer. If you only go through one phase – if you are doing only well or only doing badly for a long time – it doesn’t improve you. It is the fluctuation that improves you as a cricketer and as a team. It’s a constant process. And this phase will make him a better cricketer,” Dhoni said.