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End at Eden

The great phase of Indian cricket that kicked off at the Eden Gardens with an improbable victory over Australia to level the series (and then went on to win it 2-1) more than 11 years ago ended at the same venue with England winning the third Test by seven wickets to go 2-1 up in the series. Victory on Day Five at the iconic venue was a mere formality, which was completed in less than an hour.

Resuming on their overnight score of 239-9, India could only add eight runs before Pragyan Ojha was bowled by James Anderson. Ravichandran Ashwin remained stranded on 91. This could have been the Tamil Nadu offie’s second Test century.


Battered and bruised: Dhoni’s men return to the pavilion at the end of the third Test against England at the Eden Gardens yesterday. Pic/Ajay Roy

To make a turnaround in this series (like 2001), what India needed was one Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. Team India only had Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli in their armoury to step into the legends’ shoes, but they failed miserably.

England needed 41 for victory but there was a bit of drama when they lost three quick wickets to get to that paltry target. Skipper Alastair Cook (1), Jonathan Trott (3) and Kevin Pietersen (nought) were back in the hut. Ashwin picked up two, while Ojha got one.

Batters must stand tall
However, Ashwin’s gritty batting and soaring average (43.61) was indeed a big embarrassment for the established Indian batters. Though not in as many words, Team India captain had no qualms in admitting that the batsmen will have to pull up their socks, but stopped short of calling it the lowest phase of Indian cricket since its revival.

“I think England, Australia series were the lowest part because we were not really able to compete there. We know what the faults are over here and we should be able to rectify those,” Dhoni said. Quite surprisingly, Dhoni praised his bowlers, who were belted around for 523 runs in the first essay.

“Overall, the bowlers are doing well. If you are not putting runs on the board, you can’t question the bowlers on whether they could have defended it or not. The spinners have done a really good job; a bit more contribution from the fast bowlers would really help the side,” the
captain said.

Zaheer still fit
About pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who has been off-colour for a while now, Dhoni said: “The beauty of it is we all know the problem. It would be a great help if we find out the solution. As far as his (Zaheer) fitness is concerned, he has been the way he’s for the last few years. He’s definitely not unfit. He is doing everything. About being not effective, maybe the batsmen are playing him better.”  

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