England player Anderson balls during the fourth day of the 4th Test match at VCA stadium in Nagpur. HT/ Santosh Harhare
After they vented their frustration on the fourth day, when they found things were not going their way, India were expected to at least show their mettle despite England walking out on Monday knowing it was very much a Test for them to lose. And matters were made easy as the hosts simply surrendered.
The India camp has repeated debated the quality of pitches needed and provided while England have gone about their business. MS Dhoni's complaints came after the visitors had secured the draw by simply batting India out of the game, sealing their first Test series success in India for 28 years.
The entire morning session went without as much as a breakthrough as Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell finally came to the party, putting on a double-century partnership. The pitch played better than it had on the opening day, which meant it was for the batsmen to play a false stroke.
While India have struggled in batting and bowling in the series, they were again exposed in the one area where they did not force things to happen — catching and fielding. Bell was already on 75, with the Test draw secured, but his uppish cut against Chawla should have been taken by Sehwag in the lone slip. That one moment showed how this team has struggled to focus. The fielder’s first instinct was to take evasive action before he tried to catch, but it was too late. The previous day, Sehwag had failed to go low, allowing an edge to bounce off his ankles in the slip.
Trott, whipping off his pads to midwicket for boundaries, had gone well past his eighth century when he had to rather sheepishly walk off, after tamely flicking Ashwin to Virat Kohli in the trap laid at backward shortleg. But Bell wasn’t going to waste the life he had got.
Ultimately, England declared at 352/4, as the teams shook hands an hour before the scheduled close of play. It was time for celebrations for Alastair Cook, who was 42-days-old when David Gower’s team tasted victory in India the last time.
Out of depth
Even though the pitch had eased out compared to the first couple of days, it was surprising to see Pragyan Ojha, R Ashwin, Chawla and Ravindra Jadeja struggling to trouble the tourists.
As the day went by, the drinks breaks kept getting longer. The Indians would camp themselves on the ground, not keen to get a move on. By the time the series was lost, India’s disappointment had crossed unmatched levels. That none of the India players accompanied Dhoni to the presentation reflected poorly on the team’s attitude.
It is difficult for a team in transition to produce the results of a settled outfit, but India have been left to contemplate how things could have been planned better, and should be in the future. Multiple captains will be a priority area, after Dhoni again was too defensive.
The turning points
The right attitude
England exuded a sense of calm and optimism from the time they arrived. Denied spin tracks and spinners for practice games, they didn't grumble or complain. They just kept preparing with the available resources. India, on the other hand, were perhaps banking too much on doctored tracks and England's perceived vulnerability against spin. Once Cook and Co. refused to give in, they didn't have a plan B.
England needed a huge dose of inspiration and that's when captain Alastair Cook stood up, stroking a defiant 176. The knock not only got him going, but also banished his team mates' fear of spin. The difference in KP’s approach in Ahmedabad and Mumbai drives home the point.
Monty Mark II
Monty rewrote the script of this contest. He demolished India on a rank turner in Mumbai and played a crucial role in winning the Kolkata Test too. He and Graeme Swann accounted for 71 per cent of the Indian wickets. More significantly, they performed better than their India counterparts.
Who could have imagined the India batting line-up caving in so meekly to spinners, the tribe they would have had for breakfast in the past. The hunters turned hunted this time. That R Ashwin looked the second best batsman after Cheteshwar Pujara sums up the story.