The Indian team had beaten the home team at Lords after 28 years – one wonders whether the team started celebrating it immediately. As Akash Chopra pointed out in his column, John Wright reinstated the fact that the series was not completed when the Indians were in a similar position during his reign. The reason why I am asking the question was because of the laidback attitude that was visible in this test match. The team had taken a 1-0 lead and it seemed fine if they lost this test match. They could come back as they knew what it took to win a match in England now. Or was it another reason? Fatigue. The team was playing its third match in a row and most of the bowlers, especially, had put in long overs thanks to Dhoni’s refusal to use the fifth bowler (with or without help from the conditions). The team could have been exhausted from the first two test matches.
Let us go through the performances of the players then. There are 2-3 players on the bowling and batting who have been consistently failing, poor form or otherwise. They don’t have runs or wickets to show against their name. Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli on the batting front and Shami, Jadeja on the bowling side. I am expecting three changes to happen in the next test – MSD has given all of them three chances to prove themselves and such a crushing victory demands changes. Gambhir to come in for Dhawan and Ashwin for Jadeja. If Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is injured, Shami will retain his position in the team and we will have Varun Aaron in his place. If not, Shami will be replaced by Aaron. It is time for Ashwin to be unleashed and I have a feeling that the English batsmen will not be too comfortable against the offie at Manchester.
Dhawan and Vijay have not added a fifty partnership in a long time and that is a cause of concern. Gambhir may not be in a better frame of mind (nor form) but is a good option to have at this time. On the other hand, Kohli must be realizing why Laxman was given all those chances during the last tour when he was in the wings. He must realize that the team has been rallying behind him – he has to come good sooner than later. The stars of the series so far have clearly been Vijay and Rahane with the bat. Rahane scored 50s but he needs to take more strike in order to avoid getting stuck – he has been guilty of such situations in recent instances. But, what must be irritating MSD must have been the starts the batsmen had, that were not converted to a bigger score. Will Rohit Sharma play in another game? Dhoni will let him play the last three matches – time for Rohit to show his talent once again. Otherwise, there will be claims to oust him for the next series Down Under. The fact that the Indians presented six wickets to Moeen Ali must be haunting all of them – it will continue to do so for a while.
Among the bowlers, Bhuvi was clearly not fit but managed to grab few wickets. Jadeja’s bowling has been laid threadbare and there is no way that he can continue to command a place for the rest of the series (ahead of Ashwin). Pankaj was unlucky workhorse though one can say that he didn’t demonstrate anything spectacular during his stints with the ball. He is as tall as Ishant but pace is not good enough to trouble the batsmen like the latter would. Times have changed so much that Ishant’s absence is lamented by all Indian fans – wow! With him being not available for Old Trafford test (and Anderson getting a let-off at the enquiry), India is again at the mercy of the rejuvenated English team. Will they manage to draw, if not win, the series? It looks unlikely as of now. If they can change their attitude, that will be a good start.