India vs England 5th Test: With the series done and dusted, what can a dejected Virat Kohli and Co look to achieve from the dead rubber at Oval. It is a little hard to imagine oneself in Kohli’s shoes, he came to England with a dream and to settle a few scores from his 2014 trip. On a personal front, he achieved more than what anyone would have imagined against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, but cricket is a team sport. India lost a couple of close games, games that could have gone either way (Nottingham by 32 runs, Southampton by 60 runs).
In both those matches, the fortunes of India revolved around their captain and once he departed it was just a matter of time before England rattled India.
So what are the things that could egg Kohli-led team India at Oval?
3-2 sounds better than 4-1:
Of course, this goes without saying. To be honest, the 4-1 scoreline will not reflect how competitive the series was and even the English team knows how close it was at times. Kohli will look at this for motivation.
Look to Spoil Alastair Cook’s Farewell Party:
It’s harsh to look at it that way, but England will feel pained if that happens. Joe Root and Co would look to give Cook a fitting farewell as he has undoubtedly been the greatest Test batsman for England and the only English Test batsman to have in excess of 12,000 runs. This could also be one factor Kohli can look at to motivate the boys at Oval.
End Oval Drought:
India won its first ever Test in 1971 at the same venue under the able leadership of Ajit Wadekar, but since then they have played 11 more Tests at the venue and lost all of them. It is surprising considering Oval is known to be a batsman’s paradise and India is a cricketing nation that boasts on its batsman. India has lost their last two Tests at the Oval by innings and 8 runs in 2011 and innings and 244 runs in 2014.
Look towards the future:
With KL Rahul is dismal form, it is time Kohli looks ahead. Rahul has been able to score a mere 113 runs in eight innings in the series. Those are not figures you would like to see from your opener. Now that Vijay has been dropped on form, it is time Kohli looks at the future and gives young Prithvi Shaw his debut Test cap. Even if he does not perform, the experience would give him an insight into how the game is played at the highest level. He can then go back and work on the mistakes, but give the guy a go.
Iron out the wrinkles:
Virat Kohli and the team will travel to Australia later this year. Now that England is done, at Oval they can look to prepare for Australia. The bowling combination can be sorted out so that everyone knows their role in the side and also look to be aggressive. Australians are bound to come hard at the Indians and at Oval they can look at situations when they are in a spot of bother and then try to recover from that.