Virender Sehwag, left, walks off after being dismissed without scoring on the third day of the third Test match against England at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham.
The Indian batting has not lived up to its reputation so far in the series. But when the team stands on the verge of handing over the No 1 spot in Tests to England, they could as well play for pride.
India let England off the hook on Day One. Andrew Strauss surprised all by electing to field on a wicket, which was different from the ones at Lord's and Trent Bridge. Probably, the frailty of the lower half of the India batting made him take such a call, as he felt, if England could take 2-3 wickets before lunch, the lower order could be put under pressure even on a pitch which was easing out.
To be honest, there were some soft dismissals from batsmen who have stood rock solid in testing conditions elsewhere.
This is what has baffled me in the series. England were brilliant, but the ordinary performance of the visitors made them look even better. In the last decade, India batsmen have proved their mettle abroad in testing conditions, be it on bouncy pitches at Perth and Durban, or the seaming conditions at Headingley. In 2007, the same India line-up showed the mettle in England against a more or less similar attack. So what has gone wrong?
I feel, it is more mental than anything else, and it is showing in the body language of the players. The opening pair hasn’t delivered and that has exposed the middle order to the new ball early. The batsmen have been tentative, and most of the time they have been caught on the crease on their way forward, something which is so vital in these conditions. Would you call it lack of preparation? I don't think so, as you don't tell a Dravid, Tendulkar or a Laxman how to bat in English conditions.
Then what is it? I feel the mind has not clicked till now.
The English bowlers have utilised this doubt in the batsmen’s mind to get success.