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Southampton Test: India lost the third Test on Day 1 itself

MS Dhoni threw in the towel during Sunday's second session when he asked Ravindra Jadeja to bowl a negative line, writes Aakash Chopra

In a classic David vs Goliath wrestling match David had Goliath lying unconsciously on the mat. David sitting on top of Goliath suddenly started weeping, for he was worried about the outcome if Goliath woke up.

India's Ravindra Jadeja appeals to South African umpire Marais Erasmus during Day One of the third Test against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Sunday. pic/Getty Images
India's Ravindra Jadeja appeals to South African umpire Marais Erasmus during Day One of the third Test against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Sunday. pic/Getty Images  

He was certain that if they were to fight again, Goliath would beat him to pulp. India, unfortunately, behaved like the David of that wrestling match at Southampton.

For, instead of growing in stature and confidence after a comprehensive win at Lord's, they chose to play a defensive brand of cricket with 'not losing' being the overriding thought in their minds.

India started this series with the realisation that four Indian bowlers weren't enough to take 20 wickets in a Test match and hence played five, or at least tried to squeeze in a fifth bowler at Trent Bridge and Lord's.

But at Southampton, India went back to playing seven batsmen and just about four bowlers. Perhaps, the fact that India didn't need the fifth bowler to take 20 wickets at Lord's let MS Dhoni into believing that it was better to beef up the batting.

On the contrary though, the absence of Ishant Sharma and the lack of wickets from Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami (3 and 4 respectively in two matches) should have made him play an extra bowler, but that didn't happen.

What made matters worse for India was that Alastair Cook won the toss and batted first on a reasonably good pitch, and the fact that Bhuvneshwar Kumar was not only due for a bad game but also was a tired bowler.

The current crop of bowlers never played more than two Test matches in a row and hence it's only obvious that they become slightly less penetrative as the series progresses. Either rotating the existing bowlers or giving them the cushion of a fifth bowler is an absolute must for India to
compete.

England lost the second Test in the first session by not making full use of the helpful conditions at Lord's and India lost the game in the second session of the first day when Dhoni threw in the towel and asked Jadeja to bowl a negative line to two well-set southpaws — Cook and Gary Ballance.

It was slightly unfortunate to see India conceding so early in the match that they didn't have the bowlers to take 10 wickets on that pitch, for the tactics betrayed the mindset.

Super Cook
Another good thing that England did was to rotate their bowling line-up well. Cook brought in Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes for slightly jaded Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes.

While both of them didn't pick wickets, they didn't leak runs either. Their presence allowed Cook to rotate his two best bowlers through out the day, which wasn't the case in the first two Tests.

Previously, if you could ride the first wave of the English attack of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, you were assured calm waters afterwards, but that wasn't the case at Southampton.

Perhaps, that's the reason Moeen Ali got a couple of cheap wickets in the first innings, for the release wasn't coming against any other bowler. India beat England in their own game at Lord's and England have beaten India in their own game at Southampton.

I was really bullish about India's chances after Lord's but after the way India approached this game and Cook and Bell's return to form, I'm skeptical about the road ahead. From looking like winning the series a match ago, India has come to a stage that they'll have to play out of their skin to even draw the series.

Aakash Chopra is a former India opener

 

1
No of overseas Test victories Dhoni has to his record since July 2011 

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