India v/s England: English Clouds Hover Over the Indian Cricket Team
As the Indian women’s cricket team put up a spirited performance against England on the first day, few miles away the Indian men are in disarray just before the fifth and final test commences on 15th August. When the series started, the story was different--the Indians had their collars up on the field and their leading pacer, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, alone was getting half of the English team out.
The first test in Nottingham ended in a draw, which was well fought, and gave way to a thriller at Lords. Lords has always been a favourite ground of the Indians—be it Kapil Dev lifting the first World Cup or Sourav Ganguly’s mad celebrations after defeating England in the Natwest finals.Well, India’s tryst with Lords continued as they defeated England in a test after 28 years on this ground.
The next day, media in India went berserk and everyone’s Facebook pages were embellished with Team India’s triumph. However, the euphoria was short-lived. Amidst all the joy and excitement, no one actually paid attention to the widening fissures within the Indian team-play. As long as we were winning and not letting them win, no one realized that the baggage of India’s spirited play was being carried by three or four men out of a team of eleven. One loss followed by another at the Oval in Manchester opened everyone’s eyes.
Throughout, the Indian top and middle order failed to offer any resistance. It was actually the unlikely lot of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ajinkya Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja (who had never known what a test pitch in England is like!) saw the team through. But their resistance worked for two matches and it was not enough to last for the rest of the series.
When you are facing a quality team for a five match old-school test series, your basics – batting and balling, have to be intact. That is where India failed. India’s amazing test record prior to this series was attributed to the prolific run scoring of India’s top four. While Murli Vijay proved his worth and showed the top order how to battle it out on the seaming English wickets, the rest failed to take a note. Virat Kohli made reminded us of the great Australian skipper and batsman, Ricky Ponting, who had a batting average of below 10 in India and an overall average touching the phenomenal 60-mark.
Shikhar Dhawan, after scoring a near double against Australia in his debut test match was just a shadow of his past performance. His replacement, Gautam Gambhir, failed to impress too. In the last test, India failed to bat even 100 overs in their two innings combined and fell like a pack of cards.
With just about six months left for the World Cup in similar conditions in New Zealand and Australia, India faces a graver risk of losing their World Championship title. Well, the present requires them not to add salt to their wounds and find their winning ways back in the last match.
- Sayan Ganguly