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No 1 spot slipping away

india Updated: Aug 13, 2011 01:43 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
Sanjjeev K Samyal

Eoin-Morgan-hits-a-four-as-Mahendra-Singh-Dhoni-looks-on-during-the-third-cricket-Test-at-Edgbaston-cricket-ground-in-Birmingham

Exactly 20 years to the third day of the third Test in Edgbaston, three pillars of probably the greatest team of all time called it a day.

The West Indies have never been the same again after Vivian Richards, Malcolm Marshall and Jeff Dujon quit Test cricket on August 12, 1991.

Caribbean cricket's fortunes nosedived because they were unable to handle the transition.

The signs are ominous for India too. They came here as the No. 1 Test team but a ruthless England have exposed the chinks in the ageing group.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/13_08_11-pg19c.jpg

Ironically, MS Dhoni's team, which also had three giants on the field on Friday in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, are also staring at a transition. The three, who played a big part in taking the team to the top, are in the final stage of their international careers.

More than losing the top position, what has hurt more is the difference in the quality of play, and the gulf seems to have widened.

The England batsmen piled on India's misery on Friday. Alastair Cook narrowly missed his maiden triple hundred, Eoin Morgan got his second Test hundred and Tim Bresnan hit his second successive half-century of the series as the home team batted almost the whole day before declaring at 710 for seven.

It leaves India to score 486 runs to avoid an innings defeat. At close of play, India were 35 for one after Virender Sehwag collected a pair when he was out on the first ball he faced off James Anderson.

Sublime form
Cook, a master at making a good start count, continued from where he left on the second evening. There was no hint of a batsman batting on 182 when he resumed in the morning.

He again worked himself in and was a picture of concentration. It was as if he wanted to make up for the loss of runs in the first two Tests.

The left-handed opener completed his double hundred with a clip to the leg side for a double, acknowledged the applause and got back to work. The only heartbreak for the home supporters was when he fell six short of his triple century.

At the other end, Morgan too looked more assured than on Thursday evening. He made the most of the two dropped chances to complete a career-saving century (104, 11 fours).

It has proved to be a nightmare of a series for India. And for the first time, they accepted that they had been outplayed.

"We have not been able to live up to expectations or the reputation we have. We have not played good, smart cricket and we take responsibility as a team," said Gautam Gambhir.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/13_08_11-pg19a.jpg

Not only did India’s bowling fall short, the fielding too was embarrassing. “There are no excuses. It is a matter of concentration,” said Gambhir.

“We need to give credit to England. They are playing some good cricket and they have always taken the initiative in this series.

“We have not been able to take our chances. At Trent Bridge, England were 124 for 8, but we did not take that chance,” said Gambhir.