India vs England: Back at Gabba, time for a fresh start

  • Anand Sachar, Hindustan Times, Brisbane
  • Updated: Jan 20, 2015 04:15 IST

“We did bowl good deliveries, but in between there were quite a few loose ones,” remarked MS Dhoni.

It was one of the reasons the captain gave for another loss, this time in the tri-series opener to Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday. In reality, this has been India‘s story so far.

They shone in certain sessions, but floundered in the rest. They fought, but failed to win. They had a team, but one in which the gaps were glaring.

The cracks came to the fore for the first time in the second Test here. It was the second-last day and India were poised to make a match of it, especially after serving a scare at Adelaide in the first Test.

The series could have ended in India ‘s favour but for the issues that cropped up during training. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli were hit before the fourth day’s play during training, and while the former opted against batting, the latter had to fill in for him.

Kohli’s golden form received a jolt, and after him the rest of the batting collapsed. Up 2-0, Australia could not have lost the series.

Verbal duel

Kohli minced few words in expressing his dissatisfaction to Shikhar. Dhoni publicly announced the ‘unrest’ in the dressing room, before walking away from Test cricket in the middle of a tough series.

The team arrived on Monday and checked in just four kilometers from the Gabba, but stayed away from it. They did not practice, which after a game the previous night was understandable. But they chose not to host the routine pre-match press conference. In fact, they are likely to opt against doing what their opponents for Tuesday, England , are scheduled to do — train on the morning of the day-night affair.

“According to the plan, the English will practice in the morning, but not the Indians. They had made a big issue about the training wickets during the Test. They did not realise that the wicket was deteriorating in accordance with the match progress,” Kevin Mitchell Jr, chief curator, told HT.

“I have kept the wicket same ahead of the ODI too. They should come and practice on it to get an idea. It doesn’t look like they will. England have been thrilled with the facilities.”

There are issues bigger than the wicket. The team needs to regain its cohesiveness before the World Cup. During Saturday’s training session at the MCG, Shikhar and Kohli indulged in a long chat, but apart from that, one could feel the chill between them.

The Men in Blue have less than a month before they commence their title defence, and there’s no better place to start in the right earnest than at the Gabba.

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