Monty Panesar has slammed Rohit Sharma’s ‘clueless’ captaincy in the wake of India’s 28-run defeat to England and believes the hosts badly missed Virat Kohli’s aggression in the field.
India had appeared in complete control of the Hyderabad Test before England managed to overturn a 190-run deficit to secure an all-time great victory, with Ollie Pope hitting an inspired 196 and Tom Hartley claiming seven for 62 on debut.
The result puts the touring side 1-0 up ahead of the second contest in Visakhapatnam, starting on Friday, and India – the strong favourites heading into this winter’s series – will face enormous pressure to claw themselves back level.
India’s latest defeat on home soil has seen captain Sharma come under further intense scrutiny, with some even calling for Kohli to return as skipper when he makes himself available again.
Sharma’s lacklustre approach in the field during England’s second innings, in particular, has been heavily criticised, and Panesar feels the Indian opening batsman’s tactics were largely at fault for the loss.
‘Everyone thought England would lose after a 190 deficit but Ollie Pope played a brilliant innings, one of the best we’ve seen for a long time.
‘And Rohit Sharma, he was clueless. Absolutely clueless captain. Not proactive, not changing the field set or anything like that.
‘With Ravindra Jadeja and Ollie Pope playing the scoop. Just take slip out and put in a fly slip or something, change the field.
‘If they’re playing all these different shots, change your field set and be attacking.
‘Very defensive field set… he needs to bring that fielder which is at deep point, bring him on the catch when they reverse sweep, so they get it slightly wrong.’
Kohli’s bullish character was badly missed in Hyderabad, according to Panesar, with the talismanic batter not expected to return until the third Test in Rajkot.
Panesar added: If Virat Kohli was playing he would be in the faces of these England players, he would tell them: “Come on, do it again and let’s see how good you are!”
‘This is an England team that are not scared of losing. They don’t care if they lose the next four games, they will still play with no fear of failure.
‘They will keep coming hard. It’s a psychological battle.’
In the wake of their opening defeat, the hosts were dealt a major blow as Ravindra Jadeja and KL Rahul were ruled out of the Visakhapatnam Test through injury.
Meanwhile, Brendon McCullum has hinted England could field an all-spin attack after their success in Hyderabad, with uncapped off-spinner Shoaib Bashir now available.
‘If the wickets continue to spin as much as what we saw in the first Test as the series goes on, we won’t be afraid to play all spinners or a balance of what we’ve got,’ the England head coach said.
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