India vs England 2nd Test: It's time for the middle-order to make it count

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Ironically,
it
is
that
middle-order
now
is
giving
India
some
worrying
moments.
Runs
have
come
from
KL
Rahul,
Rohit
Sharma
Rishabh
Pant
and
Ravindra
Jadeja
in
this
Test
and
in
general
as
the
more
accomplished
troika
has
been
reduced
to
middling
spectators.

Let’s
crunch
some
numbers
as
a
beginning.
Since
the
2018
Oval
Test
against
England,
Jadeja
is
India’s
most
prolific
batsman
abroad
with
an
average
of
44.72
while
Kohli
is
8th
in
the
list
with
an
average
of
29.65.
In
all
conditions
since
that
2018
Oval
Test,
Rohit
towers
over
others
with
an
average
of
57.86
while
Kohli
is
5th
with
an
average
of
42.60.

In
this
meantime,
Rahane
(all
conditions
average:
38.50,
away
average:
35.33)
and
Pujara
(all
conditions
average:
35.34,
away
average:
35.75)
too
produced
less
than
satisfactory
results.
Yes,
Rahane
was
India’s
highest
run-getter
in
the
World
Test
Championship
cycle,
the
only
batsman
to
go
past
1000
runs,
and
he
also
captained
a
wounded
India
admirably
in
Australia.

His
match-winning
hundred
at
Melbourne
will
be
tattooed
in
the
memory
for
a
long
time.
Pujara
defied
the
Aussies
putting
his
body
on
the
line
and
made
277
runs
from
928
balls
and
his
effort
had
a
big
role
in
India
winning
their
second
successive
Test
series
Down
Under.

But
the
statistics
nosedive
when
we
apply
a
more
stringent
filter,
from
the
2020-21
season
that
began
with
a
two-match
Test
series
against
New
Zealand
away
from
home.
Since
that
MCG
hundred,
Rahane
has
made
27,
22,
4,
37,
24,
1
0,
67,
10,
7,
27,
49,
15,
5,
1
and
just
two
scores
above
40
in
15
innings
by
a
bankable
batsman
is
certainly
a
matter
of
concern.

Since
the
start
of
2020,
Pujara
made
11,
11,
24,
54,
43,
0,
17,
3,
50,
77,
25,
56,
73,
15,
21,
7,
0,
17,
8,
15,
4,
12,
9
and
his
best
effort
was
the
twin
fifty
(50
and
77
at
Sydney)
against
Australia
as
India
drew
the
third
Test.

From
that
tour
of
New
Zealand,
Kohli
has
made
2,
19,
3,
14,
74,
4,
11,
72,
0,
62,
27,
0,
44,
13,
0,
42.
The
Indian
skipper
has
three
gritty
fifties
spanning
across
Adelaide
and
Chennai.
He
also
grafted
two
40-plus
scores
against
New
Zealand
at
Southampton
and
England
at
Lord’s
(first
innings).

But
beyond
those
numbers,
the
struggle
to
avoid
repetition
of
mistakes
by
them
has
been
frustrating.
Kohli
seemed
to
have
invoked
an
old
ghost
as
he
often
perished
outside
the
off-stump.
James
Anderson
(Nottingham)
and
Ollie
Robinson
(Lord’s)
snared
him
bowling
the
fourth
stump
line.
We
have
familiarised
with
a
Kohli
who
dominates
the
bowling
attacks
and
a
gluttonous
batsman
who
converts
40s
and
50s
into
something
bigger.

However,
Kohli
has
not
been
able
to
score
hundred
since
his
double-hundred
against
Bangladesh
in
late
2019.
Pujara
seemed
to
have
been
locked
himself
in
a
battle
with
shadows.
In
the
home
series
against
England
earlier
this
year,
he
got
stuck
in
the
crease
against
left-arm
spinner
Jack
Leach
more
than
once,
and
once
he
landed
in
England
his
woes
have
been
multiplied
and
there
is
no
pattern
too
for
him
dismissals.

Pujara
has
just
not
been
able
to
master
the
conditions
in
England.
Trent
Boult
trapped
him
LBW
with
an
in-dipper
and
Kylie
Jamieson
made
him
edge
an
away
going
delivery
during
the
WTC
Final
at
the
Ageas
Bowl.
Anderson
has
jettisoned
him
twice
already
in
three
innings
so
far
with
that
hint
of
away
movement.

Post
the
WTC
Final,
the
team
management
might
have
had
a
sit-down
with
them
and
asked
Pujara
to
ensure
a
better
strike-rate.
A
13-ball
12
at
Trent
Bridge
before
rain
arrived
on
the
fourth
day
might
have
been
a
direct
result.

Then
we
have
Rahane.
Rahane
likes
to
gradually
tighten
his
grip
on
the
opposition
unlike
someone
like
Kohli
who
stamps
his
authority
straightaway.
But
of
late,
Rahane
seemed
to
be
in
a
hurry
to
score
runs,
somehow.
That
eagerness
led
to
his
death
in
the
first
innings
at
Lord’s.

Anderson
delivered
from
wide
of
the
crease,
and
Rahane
did
not
bother
to
read
him
well
and
pushed
at
the
ball
anticipating
an
incoming
ball.
But
the
ball
took
an
outward
direction,
and
the
edge
transformed
into
an
easy
catch
to
Joe
Root
at
slips.

KL
Rahul,
who
made
a
fifty
and
hundred
in
3
innings
so
far,
offered
some
tips.
“Pujara
and
Ajinkya
are
fabulous
players
and
have
done
the
job
for
India
many
times
when
we
were
in
trouble.
They
are
world-class
and
I’m
sure
they
are
hungry
to
go
out
and
score
some
runs.
They
are
experienced
players
so
they
know
how
to
come
out
of
a
couple
of
innings
they
haven’t
scored
runs,”
said
Rahul.

“You
have
also
to
realise
they
are
playing
in
tough
conditions.
In
English
conditions
batting
is
always
going
to
be
challenging,
you
are
going
to
get
good
balls.
You
can’t
go
out
there
and
score
runs
in
every
innings,
but
if
you
get
a
start
then
you
make
it
count,”
he
said.

The
triumvirate
might
not
be
in
any
imminent
danger
of
losing
their
place
but
it’s
time
too
they
make
their
outings
count.
The
fate
of
this
series
could
well
be
on
that.

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