Now that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Indian team has broken its winless 15-Test streak overseas by beating England at Lord’s, the players must realise that they are in prime position to adopt a ruthless approach in the third Test at Cardiff from Sunday.
England appear in total disarray right from the top with skipper Alastair Cook facing the biggest crisis of his cricketing career. His highest score in nine innings is 28 and England’s best batsman, Ian Bell, hasn’t got a big score in the series.
Without taking away anything from Ishant Sharma’s seven-wicket haul at Lord’s on Monday, not many in the England team showed signs of being capable to ride the storm. Their wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior, an otherwise spunky character, just threw it away with the bat after a highly forgettable Test behind the stumps. A few hours after the defeat, it was announced that Prior had pulled out of the series.
India must do what the West Indies pioneered and perfected in the 1970s and 1980s when they put the opposition captain under intense pressure and worked on the principle that if the captain is on shaky ground, there’s a good chance that his team will collapse around him.
India have stolen a march by being one-up in the series, but they cannot take their feet off the gas. Good teams have never played their cricket that way. In the past, India have failed to clinch away series after making it to the win column first Australia in 2003-04 (series drawn 1-1) and South Africa in 2006-07 (series lost 1-2).
Skipper Dhoni should know since he was part of the Indian team in 2006-07. At the risk of stating the obvious, it must be emphasised that this five-Test series is only two Tests old.
Ever since India won their first Test abroad in 1967-68, they have won two Tests in a row in a non-sub-continental series only four times. A fifth instance next week would give consistency a good name.