Fighting back in the fifth and final Test at the Oval will be difficult for India
Manchester: Given India's predicament at the moment, one is left chuckling at how they got off to a nice, positive start to the series a little over a month ago.
India players form a huddle on Day One of the third Test against England in Southampton recently. Pic/Getty Images
A sub-continent like pitch was laid out for them at Trent Bridge, the openers struck three boundaries in the first over of the match, the tail-enders found themselves amongst runs, Dhoni played five bowlers and soon enough they were 1-0 up at the conclusion of the second Test at Lord's.
But with the team now in free fall, it is pretty clear that the initial results were possible largely due to England's blunders, and that the visitors had little to do with that success.
Curator played his part
While Murali Vijay dazzled at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, the curator there played his part too, or the first two edges in the very first over from James Anderson wouldn't have bounced twice between third slip and gully.
As the Manchester surface showed, one mistake proved costly for Vijay while at Nottingham the ball found the ropes. India managed to score 139 runs in the third-man region. In comparison, only 38 were scored behind square on the offside in Old Trafford, as 10 batsmen edged to slips.
At Lord's, England's poor line and length ensured India were not embarrassed like Old Trafford on the first morning. In Manchester 33% of Anderson's deliveries were fuller than six metres whereas at Lord's it was down to 16%. Some poor bowling had let India off the hook and then some mindless batting on the last day by England led to a miraculous win for the visitors.
At Southampton, with a slim 1-0 lead, India somehow felt the need to be conservative in their approach. Playing an extra batsman was a clear blunder given the workload of the bowlers in the previous Test.
Drops in the slips
The slip-cordon never looked comfortable at Lord's, but due to grass on the pitch, opportunities came more often, so a mistake did not prove as costly. In Southampton, there were no second chances and India was made to pay heavily for the embarrassing fumbles.
By the time the caravan reached Manchester, the hosts were in no mood to accord favours to Dhoni & Co. The pitch had bounce and carry.
The English bowlers pitched the ball up and some spineless display by the top-order ensured victory was handed on a platter. As a result, India find themselves trailing 1-2 and nothing short of a miracle can help them square the series.