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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014
Team India's big guns have to stand up and take responsibility
Sourav Ganguly
August 11, 2014
First Published: 20:03 IST(11/8/2014)
Last Updated: 21:43 IST(11/8/2014)

As I sit down to write this piece, I am still in my Manchester hotel sitting next to the window and watching the heavy rain paralyse the city.

There are pictures on national TV of the amount of water on the ground at Old Trafford. Not a single ball would have been bowled on the fourth day of the fourth Test, had India taken it that far. But then that Test is gone and is history.

The Indian team hotel is right next door and a lot of the team members will be sitting in their rooms trying to figure out the terrible time they endured in this Test.

They will agree, and I am sure it must have hurt a lot of them while reflecting on the loss that was handed in two and a half days. This is not the first time it has happened, it happened in Birmingham in 2011, in Perth the same year and it must be worrying the team and the coach.

India will need to have a hard look at themselves, especially their overseas performance since 2011. They are a much better side than that and the performance is not a true reflection of the quality of players in the dressing room. But they must agree it's not getting any better. They will have to find a way to solve this downward slide and that too quickly.

The pitch at Old Trafford was fabulous and India did the right thing by electing to bat. That's the way Test matches are won.

It's important to take the pressure upfront rather than in the fourth innings and although the pitch had a bit in it early on, it was in no way comparable to the seam movement at Lord’s.

This will be hurting India even more as they were absolutely fabulous at Lord’s and then got rolled over on a less responsive pitch by an attack which has only two strike bowlers in Anderson and Broad.

Moeen Ali, who has taken so many wickets, must have surprised himself too. To me, Indian batsmen giving wickets to a spinner on pitches which haven't turned much, is massive suicide.

Graeme Swann picked 13 wickets in 2011 but Moeen has 19 already with a Test still to go. India have adopted two extreme ways to play Moeen— they have either attacked or defended and overlooked the basic principle of playing according to the merit of the ball.

I know Indian batsmen’s eyes light up when they see spinners but they must understand that every bowler has to be given respect.

None can release the pressure of the other and if you think so, then you are in trouble.

That's exactly what happened when the Indian batsmen played the off-spinner. Most of the dismissals against Moeen have been to soft shots.

So, what should India do now? They will be playing at the Oval in a few days’ time.

I think everyone needs to take a hard look at oneself. They have worked hard in the nets for the last four Tests as a group but time has come to move away from each other and introspect — what can I do from here to get better?

Stand in front of the mirror and work your mind out. Teams have a lot of support staff but everyone must remember that cricket is as much an individual sport as it is a team one and all the individuals will have to get better.

The batting has been a massive worry. In the past when India won overseas or did well, the batting unit would put up 500 runs a lot more often and that would set up the Tests. Anil Kumble, who spearheaded the bowling attack for a long period would say to the batting unit, “you give me runs, I will win you Test matches”.

Time has come for the likes of Kohli, Pujara and Gambhir to stand up for themselves and for the team as their reputations have taken a massive beating.


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