Home pitch, tame show
This India team has got accustomed to shellacking after eight straight Test defeats in England and Australia, but this loss will be the hardest to take. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports. Day 4 | What they say | Skipper says | Scorecardindia Updated: Nov 27, 2012 02:19 IST
What a difference a week can make! Last Monday, after the rout in the opener, the England players cut forlorn figures in their dressing room at Ahmedabad, wondering how they were going to go through the long Test series.
Keeping up their clinical performance on the first three days of the second Test, England went for the kill straightaway on the fourth morning. The three remaining India wickets were scooped up within 43 minutes in 11.1 overs.
The target of 57 was achieved by openers Alastair Cook and Nick Compton in 9.4 overs to accomplish a cherished 10-wicket win.
This India team has got accustomed to shellacking after eight straight Test defeats in England and Australia, but this loss will be the hardest to take.
For, it has come on their home turf, on a wicket made exactly as they wanted --- offering vicious turn and bounce from the first session itself.
After the poor show, there will be a lot of India players feeling the pressure, none more than Dhoni himself. The skipper had asked for such a turf in his eagerness to exploit the home advantage, but it backfired and ended up neutralising his team's strength.
It became a lottery, where a couple of big performances could prove decisive, and it indeed turned out to be the case. It smacked of a negative attitude, which some deciphered as lack of trust in his unit. Day 4 | What they say
Not to mention that his batsmen wouldn't be too happy with their captain's call. Quite a few of his key men are going through a poor run and this outing would have done nothing to help their confidence.
Dhoni's second Test defeat at home is being seen as the strongest reminder that the team is in a state of serious decline and the captain has lost his Midas touch.
The No 1 rank they held till the summer of 2011 has receded further in the memory. Not only did England bat better against spin, their slower bowlers taught a trick or too on how to exploit the home conditions.
It has raised serious doubts over whether India remain a world-class Test team with the quality and depth to match the best in the world.
The most shocking fact was that barring Cheteshwar Pujara, none of the batters showed the technique to adapt to the turf. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, all known to be among the finest players of spin, failed in both the innings.
It was a sad sight to see Tendulkar hopping around against the bounce and sharp turn extracted by Monty Panesar.
Sehwag didn't look confident either and fell to the left-arm spinner in both the innings of his 100th Test.
There is a lot riding on Kohli and three poor shots in three innings have raised questions on his temperament again.
The biggest difference, however, was the character shown by Cook's army and the lack of fight shown by the local stars.
Cook's men had everything loaded against them, from losing the toss to playing on a tailormade wicket.
As a former India skipper said, "The India captain got the wicket he wanted but failed to extract the performance he wanted from his team."
The result has thrown open the series and England will have the psychological edge going into Kolkata.