India 4 England 0 – 2016 Test series review
If nominative determinism has a place in cricket, last winter proved it.
Virat Kohli is Majestic. Literally. That’s what Virat means. Captain Kohli, complete with his I’ve-just-shagged-your-sister grin, led India to a comprehensive series victory over an England side that was simply ground into the dust over six exhausting weeks.
As a batsman, Kohli was nigh-on untouchable, weighing in with 655 runs at an average of 109. He skippered with élan and vision, too, although it does help when you have the double spin threat of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at your disposal. Respectively the world’s top-ranked and most economical Test bowlers, they combined lethally to deliver 54 wickets.
There were other noteworthy performances from the ruthless hosts. Pregnant fifth-former Karun Nair compiled a triple century in the final Test in Chennai, becoming only the second Indian in history to achieve that feat (Virender Sehwag’s done it twice, for Christ’s sake). Karun’s reward was to be dropped from the squad. Bolivian revolutionary Che Pujara was steady rather than spectacular but still contributed 401 runs at 50. KL Rahul’s agonising 199 is all but forgotten, coming as it did in the same innings as Karun’s mammoth knock. And seamers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav bowled with zest and no little skill with new and old ball, the latter for scant reward.
It had all begun so encouragingly for England. But a ‘winning’ draw in Rajkot was to be as good as it got. Thereafter, the tourists’ inability to take wickets precipitated some spectacular losses. In both of the final two Tests, England scored over 400 in the first dig, only to succumb to innings defeats. Adil Rashid can hold his head high after taking 23 wickets, albeit they cost him the thick end of 40 apiece, but no-one else took more than 10.
The tastiest crumb of comfort for England in this chastening series was the emergence of Haseeb Hameed as Alastair Cook’s opening partner. Cook himself endured a torrid time but teenager Hameed signalled his arrival on the international stage with an excellent technique and some doughty knocks, one of which he played with a broken hand. Keaton Jennings made a ton on debut in Mumbai and he too could find a permanent spot in that top three. Elsewhere, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Jonny ‘Yogi’ Bairstow and Ben Stokes all performed well with the bat. But, as reported, it was the edentate bowling that was the problem.
Finally, spare a thought for England’s ‘footnote’ players. Don’t expect to see the names of Ben Duckett, Gareth Batty, Liam Dawson or Zafar Ansari on an England Test teamsheet any time soon (although the last-named did at least leave the legacy of one of the best Guerilla jingles ever – check it out in the archive).
Here is an extended taster of this series. If you like what you hear we have a full archive of all the games we have ever covered along with over 400 of our jingles, some amazing, some not so. But it’s all there for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!