Tuesday, 26 July 2011

What happened India?

India as always lost the first test on their England tour by 196 runs. The no. 1 ranked team was expected to beat England and justify their status but ceased to let go of old ways. India's batting was poor on a pitch that was if not 500+ but definitely a 400+ pitch. India's bowling looked good in parts and bowlers performed only for an hour or so and after that let England off the hook. Meanwhile India were nursing several fitness issues, players looked scratchy and out of touch and the team looks in tatters. Is this the way a champion team should prepare to face another champion team?

At first comes Zaheer's fitness. The premier bowler of India has a knack of developing niggles here and there whenever he plays. He is an aging man and needed to put country priorities first and should have skipped the IPL. I don't know why players half fit play for the IPL. Play for the IPL but only if you are fully fit. After that if he was unfit, why did he play in the first place? He did n't even bowl in the 2nd innings against Somerset in the practice match. Was n't that enough to suggest he was not match fit? How could the Indians chance him for a full test match knowing that they might lose him for the whole series. What difference did he make by bowling just 13-14 overs in the match and leaving India one bowler short on a true batting track so much so that our wicket-keeper captain had to bowl. This was the state of the champion team that looked to beat a side like England.

Then there were other fitness issues for which India could not be blamed. Gambhir struck on his hand by a powerful sweep from prior was immediately rushed to hospital. He did bat in the 2nd innings but we knew- a hand in pain could never put his hand up and bail the team out. Then the master batsman Sachin Tendulkar got down with viral fever. He also did bat in the 2nd innings but then again how could the unhealthy man repair India's health. The batting overall suffered and the famed batting line up could not even cross 300 on a good pitch. Batsmen who performed well were those who played in the carribean like Dravid, Laxman and Raina while new arrivals Tendulkar and Gambhir struggled. The batsmen could not perform together. In the first innings only Dravid and Mukund performed while in the next it was only Laxman and Raina. In either of the innings if all 4 had performed India would n't have lost the match. The teamwork was missing probably due to lack of Test match practice for the new arrivals.

Finally the Indian bowling. It looked like a pendulum swinging from good days to bad over 5 days. Injury man Zaheer started off well with 2 quick wickets but then he was out and no other could trouble the English. Praveen made a comeback by picking up 3 quick wickets in the middle but then he went silent and England posted 478 without much fuss after that. In the 2nd innings it was Ishant's turn as he ripped apart the English top order with England reeling at 62-5 but then he swung back to the bad as England were let off again and gave India a stiff 458 run target. Bhajji took just one wicket and was off-colour on a pitch that did n't offer anything to the spinners. Again if they had performed together for at least a part, the story might have been different. India's age old tryst with the tailenders continues as India could n't get Swann's  wicket after reducing England to 390-7 and then in the 2nd innings looked all set to fold the English innings with score at 106-7 but then again could not pick Broad's wicket and let England off yet again.

The fielding was bad with spilled catches, ungrabbed half chances and extremely poor ground fielding. I don't know what happened to the no. 1 team in the world but certainly the champions have a number of problems to solve before they get ready to challenge the rampaging English at Trent Bridge.

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