There has been some talk after India’s sizeable loss by an innings and 76 runs at Headingley that the tourists lack the batting depth required against England’s potent seam bowling attack. With Mohammed Shami walking out at number eight most recently, some have claimed there is a lack of balance to the side, and that collapses will come as part of the package of such a frail lower order.
However, in the post-match press conference, Virat Kohli countered that he has “never believed in that balance” an extra batter gives you. He went on to say that “you can try to save a defeat or try to win the game. We have drawn games in the past with similar number of batters in the team. So, if your top six or seven don’t do the job, that extra batter is no guarantee of bailing you out every time.”
Kohli’s words come at a time when Ravindra Jadeja has been for scans on a knee injury he sustained during the Leeds Test whilst the onlooking Indian public calls for the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin, the off-spinning all-rounder who would give the away side a lifeline down the order.
It is a testament to India’s strength in depth that the number one spinner in the world who has struck five Test hundreds is failing to get in the team, and he will not have been buoyed by Kohli’s post-match comments. The Oval is likely to offer some more turn than the previous three pitches, but India will be reluctant to go back to playing two spinners after the nature of the World Test Championship Final earlier this summer.
Kohli will no doubt be concerned, however, by the way England learnt their harsh lessons after Lord’s. Having bowled in spite rather than tactical rationale at Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami at the Home of Cricket, they immediately reverted to bowling at India’s tailenders with their best deliveries, going full and at the stumps. It shows just how confident the skipper is in his and his side’s ability, though, that he continues to back the top seven to get more than enough runs.