The Telegraph, Birmingham
Around a month after India became No.1 in Test cricket, Ian Chappell wrote that the absence of “champion bowlers” would ensure that the reign wasn’t long.
Up in arms, among others, were captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and senior pro Harbhajan Singh. The latter even went to the extent of asking “just who is Ian Chappell?”
That was in January 2010.
After India’s bowling at Edgbaston, on Thursday, though, Ian must be chuckling and having an extended session at the nearest bar.
Not only the bowling, India’s fielding was well below par, with three catches dropped (two by Rahul Dravid, the other by Sreesanth). Besides, there was nothing in the team’s body language to suggest the towel hadn’t been thrown in.
One of the biggest culprits was Virender Sehwag, who made a comeback after missing the tour of the West Indies. Expected to be the saviour, with India 0-2 down, Sehwag’s presence was anything but inspirational.
Some, in fact, were left wondering if Sehwag was actually at a 100 per cent after surgery on his right shoulder.
Suffice to say, it’s been England’s summer all the way.
Instead of trying to make things happen, Dhoni and the rest were content with England dictating terms ruthlessly. In the 90 overs, the hosts scored as many as 372.
At stumps on Day II of the third Test, England had taken a lead of 232 runs, with seven wickets in hand. Already, the question has begun to be asked: “How soon is the match going to end?”
The second Test, at Trent Bridge, finished in under four days.
“Of course I didn’t expect the series to unfold the way it has… Before the toss at Lord’s, it was even-stevens… But you have to accept that England have played much better and, more important, done so consistently,” former India captain Sunil Gavaskar told The Telegraph.
The day saw four centurions, but the one who stood out was opener Alastair Cook. He began the Test with an average of 5.00 in the series, but will be starting Day III on a chanceless 182 (489 minutes, 339 balls, 26×4).
A superb effort, really.
“It was frustrating not to have got runs in the first two Tests… It’s nice to have got a Daddy Hundred (a score of 150-plus),” Cook said.
Cook’s debut was in Nagpur, a little over five years ago, and he has now scripted 19 Test hundreds, one short of mentor Graham Gooch’s tally.
The other ‘centurions’ were Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth and Amit Mishra.
Captain Andrew Strauss just about missed his hundred. As it turned out, he fell to a no ball from Mishra. Unusually, Simon Taufel erred.
While Mishra got away with that, he didn’t on eight occasions. It’s criminal for a spinner to give the opposition freebies and Mishra bowled three no balls in one over alone.
Vice-captain Gautam Gambhir, who took questions from the media, admitted that England “deserved to be No.1.” However, he made the point that all wasn’t lost and “we can still show grit and character.”
“There are no excuses for dropping catches, but it happens in Test cricket… It’s not the first time that catches have been dropped and won’t be the last time either…”
“I can’t say why we haven’t been able to fight back so far… We’ve had our chances, like in the second Test, but failed to capitalise… England have played very well and have been putting us under pressure… It’s not that we haven’t played equally good attacks in the past…”
“Look, it’s not about rankings alone… It’s very easy to become the No.1, but very difficult to sustain it… We haven’t played good, smart cricket on this tour, but it’s a long one, with plenty still left… One series doesn’t make one a good or a bad team,” Gambhir maintained.
Asked if too much cricket, throughout the year, was affecting the visitors’ performance, Gambhir bluntly replied: “That’s for the BCCI to answer.”
Via: The Daily Star