The reason for this has been the poor form of the top-order batsmen apart from the captain, Virat Kohli. While Kohli has averaged 52.60 over these five Tests, none of the other top-order batsmen have averaged more than 20. Kohli has got two centuries and two half-centuries, but there has been just one other 50+ score by an India batsman, by Cheteshwar Pujara in Johannesburg.
The problems begin at the top. In their 10 innings in South Africa and England, India have lost a wicket in the first ten overs nine times. The highest opening partnership so far has been 50, at Edgbaston. While Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul have been switched around at the top, perhaps the biggest disappointment has been M Vijay, India’s leading run-getter on the 2014 tour of England. He has six single-digit scores in 10 innings.
At No.3, Cheteshwar Pujara has gone past 20 just twice in eight innings. Pujara has managed to spend some time at the crease – he has faced an average of 57 balls per innings and has three times faced more than 80 balls. But he has not managed to capitalise on those starts and put pressure on the bowlers.
India’s top order has struggled to put together partnerships. Of their 12 highest partnerships in their last 10 away innings, nine have included at least one player batting at No.7 or lower. The seventh and eighth wickets have actually produced more runs than the first three wickets put together. There have been just three 50+ partnerships between top-six batsmen.