England have returned home following a miserable 4-0 series loss to hosts India in a contest that asks serious questions about the team’s captaincy and form.
In the final test, India were able to win by an innings and 75 runs, completing a dominant victory over an England side that simply looked helpless at times. A fantastic showing by Ravindra Jadeja on the final day saw him collect ten wickets in the match overall, including seven in the second innings for just 48 runs.
India bowled out England for 207 in the second innings, with a 50 from Keaton Jennings unable to save the contest. The result has left fans questioning Alastair Cook’s captaincy due to an overwhelmingly disappointing team performance.
Ultimately, England never looked like threatening India’s dominance and their last six wickets were lost for just 15 runs. India’s Karun Nair achieved a magnificent 303 not out to put the hosts in control on the fourth day. Bowlers Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes struggled to contain India’s strong batting despite their best efforts.
Nair shared a partnership of 181 with Ravichandran Ashwin and 138 with Ravindra Jadeja, consolidating a fearsome batting game that the visitors simply could not handle.
What’s more, India were able to put in such a fantastic performance on a very tough pitch. England tried to match them, but couldn’t reach the same heights. Cook and Keaton Jennings had the score at 97 not out ahead of lunch on day five, but Jadeja’s bowling continued to cause problems.
While England struggled to keep up any kind of momentum, India were in fine form throughout the series, putting in a phenomenal all-round showing that suggests they are the team to beat as we approach 2017.
Where do England go from here?
After such a disheartening result, England need to go back to the drawing board and evaluate what went wrong in this disastrous series.
The main question is the captaincy of Alastair Cook, who has faced strong pressure to quit since the end of the series. There has been no confirmation of the batsman’s decision and he has the support of the England camp, but it will be interesting to see if Cook leads the team out next year.
It will not be easy for Cook, who has been captain since 2012, to relinquish his role, but Joe Root is a favourite to take over the job eventually. Whether this will happen in 2017 or later will be a big talking point throughout the sport. A meeting with England’s Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss is expected in the coming weeks, which is when the future England captain could be decided.
However, while England’s performance was thoroughly disappointing, it is important to remember the calibre of their opposition. India’s captain Virat Kohli has enjoyed the best year of his career, racking up five series wins in a row and three double centuries.
India now remain undefeated for 18 tests in a row, winning 14. The team could become a dominant superpower in world cricket for years to come and England may simply have to play catch up.