Keeping skipper on the ropes is half the job done
India have themselves to blame for not coming to the party fit and raring to go. From having England on the mat at 124 for 8 in the first innings at Trent Bridge, and taking a first innings lead, to losing the Test by a massive 319 runs shows the difference between the two sides. Nasser Hussain writes.Updated: Aug 03, 2011 00:25 IST
India have themselves to blame for not coming to the party fit and raring to go. From having England on the mat at 124 for 8 in the first innings at Trent Bridge, and taking a first innings lead, to losing the Test by a massive 319 runs shows the difference between the two sides. England are playing top-class cricket, whereas the Indians are struggling to cope with demons on and off the field.
England delivered a faultless performance again in all departments. James Anderson, Chris Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann again restricted, what has been rated the world's best batting side, to under-300 in the first innings and then routed them for 158 in the second innings. Despite no great opening partnerships, England's batting has been in the safe hands of Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior. Chris Broad, Tim Bresnan and Prior have played a significant role as all-rounders.
India have relied more on individual performances while the team has struggled with injuries and lack of preparation. While Rahul Dravid has batted like a champion, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar have bolstered the batting somewhat. The injury to Harbhajan creates another fitness problem.
It's evident that some of India's players are suffering from exhaustion of non-stop cricket whilst others are unfit despite being rested before the series. This has created a problem for MS Dhoni, who is fast running out of quality replacements. And the skipper himself is in his worst form with the bat and gloves since he started playing at this level. England would do well to keep the pressure on Dhoni for the remaining Tests, as keeping the opposing captain down is winning half the battle.
Having said so, I have tremendous respect for Dhoni. His decision to bring back Bell was a fantastic sporting gesture. Not many would have taken such a bold step when wickets were the need of the hour.
So is it doom and gloom for India?
Test cricket does not allow an under-prepared team, down 0-2, to bounce back, especially when there is hardly a break between matches. But India have fantastic players and someone needs to rise and inspire the team to make a comeback, and things can change for them. But England are in no mood to let up. This side is hungry for the No. 1 ranking, and it's up to India to defend their position.