Dilip Vengsarkar knows a thing or two about batting in England. Heck, that India registered a famous Test series win there in 1986 owed a lot to the former India batsman, who peeled off two centuries during the historic tour. Vengsarkar amassed 360 runs in the three-Test series, with centuries at Lord’s (126*), Leeds (102*) as India captured the series 2-0.
Barring the 2002 and 2007 tour, India’s batting in England has not lived up to its expectations. Sure, there have been brilliant individual performances such as of Rahul Dravid in 2011 and Virat Kohli in 2018, but overall, the Indian batting has capitulated resulting in emphatic series defeat – they lost 0-4 in 2011, 1-3 in 2014 and 1-4 in 2018.
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Ahead of India’s World Test Championship final against New Zealand and the five-Test series against England starting in August, Vengsarkar has an informative piece of advice for the Indian batsman, which may benefit the players in the challenging English conditions.
“The thing is that once you get acclimatized, the important factor is that, to counter the extra movement, especially off the wicket, it’s important to stay side-on (batting stance). Don’t go for big drives to start with because the ball moves quite a bit and if you go for a big drive when you see a half volley, you are likely to end up in slips or anywhere. So just push the ball rather than going for the big drives,” Vengsarkar told Khaleej Times.
“In England sometimes you get overcast conditions and the ball starts moving, then suddenly you get sunshine and it becomes a good batting wicket. You get different seasons in one day in England. So, you, as a batsman, are never settled. In India, once you are set and score 30 plus runs, you can score a big innings. But that doesn’t happen in England. You are never set as such, you know. The ball moves around quite a bit and you have to be careful.”
A former batsman and BCCI chairman of selectors, Vengsarkar stressed the need to have more practice matches for the Indian team as part of their preparation for a high-profile Test series. India landed in the UK on Thursday and will spend the next few days in quarantine before entering the bio-bubble and facing New Zealand in the WTC final. From there, India have a six-week gap before they take on England in the first Test at Nottingham from August 4.
Vengsarkar says lack of practice matches is nothing new and feels the BCCI should make a whole-hearted effort to organise more of these. “It’s important to have matches. You have practice (net sessions), but the important thing is to have matches and spend time in the middle, not just for the batsmen, but for the fast bowlers and spinners as well. By spending time in the middle, they know what length to hit,” he says.
“That has been a problem for the past 10 years now. Look, when you go to Australia, England, and New Zealand, the conditions are so different. You need practice matches to get acclimated to the conditions.
“So it’s important for the BCCI also to organise more practice matches rather than having just one practice game before the start of the Test series. Otherwise, you struggle in the first Test match.”