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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

India's Lord's victory shouldn't give any false sense of achievement
Sandipan Sharma, Hindustan Times
July 22, 2014
First Published: 14:53 IST(22/7/2014)
Last Updated: 19:30 IST(22/7/2014)

India's victory over England should rank as high as the team's recent triumph against Bangladesh, if not less. Bangladesh, however, may have reasons to complain they were a much better side than England at the Lord's.

India winning in England, and that too at the Lord's, may trigger wild celebrations. It may help us puff up for our chests with the belief that the empire has struck back. But, as far as the quality of the opposition goes, beating Bangladesh on a doctored pitch in India would have been of greater value.

This English side— the one that put up a batting farce that English and Hindi commentators struggled to slot between bizarre and bakwas—is perhaps the worst that turned up at the Lord's in recent memory. India may have won at the Mecca of cricket, but their opponents were demigods falling from their pedestals.

Read: Ishant's 7 for 74 -A spell that was worth the wait

Consider their plight. Since they beat Australia in 2013, England have not won even one of their last ten Test matches. First they were trampled by Australia and then trounced by Sri Lanka at home.

Their captain Alastair Cook has not scored a century in a year. As one fan put it: 'Put a fork into him, he's Cooked'. With an average of nearly 24, Cook is perhaps just a few more days away from being forked out by selectors.

Ian Bell, whose batting average at 25 since the last summer is only slightly higher than his captain's, is also racing towards exit. Another poor performance and alarm bells will start ringing.

Between Cook, Bell and Matt Prior—who, much to England's relief, has pulled out of the series—England haven't had a century in 72 Test innings. No wonder, England capitulated soon after they lost their Mo (Moeen Ali), Joe (Root).

Writing in the Guradian, former England player Vic Marks summed it up succinctly: "(Ishant) Sharma is not that fast; nor was this pitch…Yet England had no answers. He bowled with the method which has been used regularly by Liam Plunkett this summer. However, Plunkett for all his virtues, has lacked the same seductive powers. Mind you, he has not had the benefit of bowling at English batsmen." So much for Ishant's great spell of hostile bouncers.

Let's face it, this wasn't great bowling. This wasn't Kapil Dev bowling at the same venue in 1986 or S Sreesanth swinging it both ways in South Africa eight years ago.

Read: India's Test record at Lord's

What we saw at the Lord's on Sunday was mindless batting. It seemed the English batsmen were flailing their swords, like Don Quixote, at imaginary windmills. The enemy was not out there, it was in their mind.

The problem with facile wins and handed-on-a-platter triumphs is that they lull the winner into a false sense of achievement. So, it is imperative that India remember they have not pushed England from their peak, but have only pushed a team already on the downward slope.

For India have their own problems. Their opening combination has not settled down yet. Mahindra Singh Dhoni is a pale shadow of the fearless batsman he once was. The way he is batting—step out of the crease, cover the off stump and let the ball hit you on the body—he would soon give Douglas Jardine competition for the definition of 'bodyline' series.

Ravindra Jadeja, for all his heroics, is yet to decide whether he is there to bat, bowl, brawl or just dance on the crease. For the record, England spinner Moeen Ali has more wickets than India's star spinner.

And, finally, Stuart Binny seems to be there just to fill up the 11th slot. Dhoni needs to either find a role for him—bat or bowl—or offer that slot to some other tourist on the bench.

Thankfully, the takeaway from the Lord's win is that India are a work in progress. And England are about to disintegrate. The win at Lord's should evoke pity for the vanquished and hope for the triumphant.

Read: Action correction helped Ishant get back into form: Coach


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