In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, “To squander the momentum in the way that India did at Headingley might be a bitter pill to swallow, but there is enough pedigree in this Indian team to suggest the past won’t dictate the future.”
Laxman praised England pace spearhead James Anderson and captain Joe Root as the hosts beat India by an innings and 76 runs in the 3rd Test to level the five-Test series 1-1.
“India had everything going after their remarkable victory at Lord’s but were comprehensively outplayed by a rejuvenated England side brilliantly served by stalwarts James Anderson and Joe Root. Just how much offense they took to dented pride after the final-day events at Lord’s was evident from Anderson’s intensity at the start of the third Test. He was business-like and characteristically probing, stringing together enough balls in the channel outside off to elicit mistakes from India’s top-order. In a roundabout way, Anderson was an influential figure in what unravelled on Day Five at Lord’s, therefore he took it upon himself to lead his team’s fightback.”
England needed less than 41 overs to skittle India for 78 inside two sessions on Day 1 of the 3rd Test.
“India were always up against it once they folded up in the second session on the first day, that too after winning the toss. It was particularly disappointing to see the middle-order not just come a cropper again, but also repeat their mistakes and fall in identical fashion to previous innings. With the gap between matches minimal, it might appear a challenge to make minor tweaks to technique, but who said international cricket was ever easy?,” Laxman pondered.
Laxman marked out pacers Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah but rued the lack of support from rest of the Indian bowlers.
“Apart from Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, the bowling seemed fatigued and bereft of ideas. Some of it was the residual impact of being shot out for a two-figure score, but that came at a heavy price. England’s openers got off to a cracking start because on a track excellent for batting, India were neither consistent nor patient. The split fields mirrored the addled thinking, allowing England to score freely on both sides of the pitch,” Laxman added.
Ravichandran Ashwin was the leading wicket-taker in the Test series between the teams in India over February and March, but still has not played in this series with the team preferring Ravindra Jadeja over the off-spinner. Laxman called for the inclusion of both Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari in the playing XI for the 4th Test.
“Rory Burns, Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan all made fifties, but England continue to rely on their captain. For the third game in a row, the wonderful Root didn’t disappoint. India had little clue about how to get him out, which is why I again advocate the return of R Ashwin for the next Test. It’s fine to have a template, but it’s also time for a change in India’s thought process. They must strengthen the batting by bringing in Hanuma Vihari at No. 6. Apart from in Leeds, Ravindra Jadeja hasn’t had much to do with the ball. Vihari can give the same overs for similar returns. The Oval tends to get drier as the game progresses, which will bring the versatile Ashwin more and more into play. That, and the presence of three left-handers in the top seven, should alone clinch the deal in the classy off-spinner’s favour. But, who knows?,” Laxman concluded.