Playing Kuldeep at Lord's a mistake, says Shastri
India seem to have accepted that they made an error when they played a second spinner in Kuldeep Yadav at Lord's in dank, overcast conditions last week.
Kuldeep and R Ashwin went wicketless as Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes took advantage of the only dry day in the match to flatten India's resolve after they were bowled out in virtually one session for 107.
After India's training session in Nottingham on Thursday, Ravi Shastri, the India head coach, said of the decision to play Kuldeep: "In hindsight, it was an error. Seeing the conditions, we could have gone with an extra seamer. That might have helped."
But, just like India captain Virat Kohli, Shastri tried to defend the move. "Then again, you didn't know how much it would rain," he said. "Whether a match could go into the final day where, just in case a spinner is needed and the ball started to turn, would we have needed him? But in hindsight, the way things panned out, the amount it rained, the amount of time we lost, a seamer could have been a better option."
Shastri isn't one to brood too long, though. He has clearly moved on, the priority now being rejuvenating India's batting after the miserable failures in the face of the swing and seam unleashed by James Anderson and Co. Kohli aside, none of the India batsmen have shown the resolve or the nous to find a way out. No specialist India batsmen has even made a fifty across four innings apart from Kohli. The only other resolve has come from the lower-middle order - Hardik Pandya and Ashwin, second and third on India's batting charts in terms of runs.
Apart from the 50-run stand M Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan put on in India's first innings in the first Test, the openers have failed to find the answers. Even the experienced Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have struggled. Rahane, who has the best average overseas among this lot, has fallen away after solid starts, out caught in the slips in all four innings. Questions persist over his form, but Rahane has Shastri's full support it seems.
"He is one of our pillars, he will remain one of our pillars," Shastri said. But if the batting unit is to bounce back, he said, the batsmen have to show mental strength. "Conditions have been tough, as you have seen right through this series. But that's where character comes into play and mental discipline comes into play. The resolve to know where your off stump is, to leave a lot of balls, to be prepared to look ugly and dirty and show some grit [is needed]."