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Day after: Silence of the lambs

The unnerved Indian players sat in their rooms a day after suffering their most humiliating moment in Test cricket, clueless how to regroup and recover from the battering. Sanjjeev Karan Samyal reports. Falling stars

cricket Updated: Aug 15, 2011 00:41 IST
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal
Hindustan Times
Sanjjeev Karan Samyal,indvseng2011,Zaheer

The unnerved Indian players sat in their rooms a day after suffering their most humiliating moment in Test cricket, clueless how to regroup and recover from the battering.

“Sab murde jaise pade huen hai,” (All look like they are dead) said a downcast team member. Their teammate on the 2007 tour, Wasim Jaffer, who plays in the Birmingham League, dropped in at the team hotel at around noon. “They are all absolutely gutted. Kuchh samajh nahin aa raha, bahut kharab tour ho gya (we can't understand, it’s turned out to be a terrible tour) they are saying,” Jaffer said.

The Indian dressing room at the end of the third Test resembled a funeral hall. There was no pep talk to lift the spirits. The legends also had lost their voice. In the evening, a few of them went out for dinner to escape the gloom.

The atmosphere was quite similar to four years ago after the shock exit at the 2007 World Cup. The players were also gutted then but at least they knew what had gone wrong. Here the batsmen are not getting runs, the bowlers are struggling in the same conditions where James Anderson and Co are making the ball talk. The best of fielders are dropping catches.

The England players have been like panthers on the prowl, and their body language has reflected their aggression. By contrast, India have given the impression they are going through the motions.

It is about the pride, and the lack of fight has shocked the Indian nation.

At the start, it was felt England will hold the edge in their den, but to win they will have to battle it out. That was the reputation the India brought here.

But sadly, one of the great Indian lineups has been listless in the series that mattered.

The signs were ominous right from the time they were routed in the warm-up against Somerset. But the warning was ignored with the talk that the Tests would be a different ball game.

What happened at the Edgbaston ground on Saturday morning has sent such shockwaves among the Indian cricket community that strong tremors must have been felt in the seat of power at the Cricket Centre office at ‘D’ Road, Churchgate in Mumbai.

The team management got it all wrong, failing to realise the ferocity of the battle they would encounter. England's aggression has been on par with Steve Waugh-led Australian team’s.

The Indian think tank certainly messed up in preparation. It's not that the players landed here without any training. Those who didn't play in the West Indies were logging in the miles at the National Cricket Academy while Sachin Tendulkar was having nets at the Lord's. But they didn’t anticipate the gale force of Andrew Strauss’s army.

Before the series, most experts had it at 50-50 but England were ready for every challenge. The prime example was how the countered Virender Sehwag.

In hindsight, the selection of Zaheer and Sehwag proved to be poor calls. The pace spearhead broke down on the first day of the series while Sehwag bagged the first king pair of his career. After the first Test, ex-England captains Ian Botham and Michael Vaughan declared it would be 4-0. It will surprise many if India recover in the fourth Test at the Oval.

First Published: Aug 14, 2011 23:52 IST