In the last three overseas Tests, in Johannesburg and Cape Town vs South Africa and Edgbaston vs England, the Indian bowling lineup has taken a combined tally of only nine wickets in the fourth innings. This lineup includes Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, Umesh Yadav (in Cape Town) and Shardul Thakur, that many reckon is the “best-ever” seam bowling lineup India have had.
The bowlers have not bowled with any sort of intensity or accuracy to make the teams sweat while trying to defend totals of 240, 212 and 378. In all three instances, the rival teams have notched up seven-wicket victories. Does it merit a debate on whether this is indeed the best attack?

India head coach Rahul Dravid admitted that bowling out teams in the fourth innings has been an issue. “We have not been able to sustain that intensity. It’s been disappointing as we had opportunities in South Africa and here. It’s something we need to look at and work on as we have been good in that area over the last few years.
“Maintaining intensity and a level of fitness and that level of performance through the course of a Test match are two areas we have not been good at, which could be the reasons,” he added.

He is right about intensity. At Edgbaston, Bumrah went for 3.57 in the first innings and Shami went for 3.54 as they bowled with hostility and accuracy. However, Siraj conceded 5.73 runs per over despite taking four wickets and Thakur went for 6.85. It allowed England to score rather quickly, ensuring there was plenty of time for a comeback if India faltered in the third innings.
In the fourth innings, in which England openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley put on England’s fastest-ever opening stand, Bumrah and Shami both went at over four an over while Siraj went at 6.53 and Thakur 5.90.

“We could have bowled better, hit better areas in the final innings,” Dravid said.
Should India’s batsmen get away blamefree though? Like Jo’burg and Cape Town, a poor third innings with the bat at Edgbaston was what allowed the opposition back in the game. The same thing happened in the World Test Championship final, at the Ageas Bowl, under Ravi Shastri’s coaching stint. Totals of 266, 198 and 245 in Jo’burg, Cape Town and Edgbaston respectively are what India have put up in the third innings.

In Southampton, they scored 170. Because India won the first Test in Centurion, the underwhelming 174 in the third innings was masked.
“We have to reflect why we aren’t able to bat well in the third innings of a Test. The next six Tests are in the subcontinent, but when we tour in these parts again, we must ensure we are well-equipped to deal with that,” Dravid said, perhaps hinting at changes in the lineup.


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By Dipak

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