All that the Indian batsmen could have done was to see videos of former Indian batsmen who had tasted success in English conditions against better English attacks, writes Balvinder Singh Sandhu
India struggled in almost all departments of the game after winning the second Test at Lord's last month, a dream destination for cricketers who love playing in whites.
James Anderson (left) celebrates after dismissing Gautam Gambhir for a duck last week. Pic/Getty Images
The confidence of any team should have been high — a bit of arrogance in body language that comes from winning and a keenness to grab the throat of the opponents in the next Test. But that did not happen.
The body language of the Indian players was too defensive despite a win in their bag at Lord's. In an exam, when one does not know the answers to the first three questions, the mind goes blank while answering the rest despite knowing the answers.
It seems that's what happened to the Indian batsmen. Their self belief was low to answer the questions raised in swinging and seaming English conditions. The batters' footwork looked indecisive. They were poking tentatively at deliveries that could have been left alone.
The chain breaks at the weakest link when pressure is applied and this holds true to the batsmen's skills as well. The batsmen's basics were drastically exposed while playing the moving deliveries on seaming English pitches.
I fail to understand how when so much technology is available to do their homework, they still failed. The English bowlers were better prepared to exploit the kinks in Indian batsmen's technique.
All that the Indian batsmen could have done is to see videos of former Indian batsmen, who had tasted success in English conditions against better English attacks. The current lot would have learnt the importance of decisive footwork and shot selection.
The only excuse that I could come up with is that having played on flat pitches successfully, they could have become complacent about their basics, but certainly not incompetent.
Strategy and tactics will work if the implementer has the necessary skills and is mentally tough to implement it under pressure.
The Indian team did it in the first two Test matches thanks to the tailenders, who showed the top order what they were capable of. The top order failed to raise their hands and be counted.
Don't just blame Dhoni
Blaming captain MS Dhoni for the team's failure is not fair. If this sounds fair, then all those who failed in the series should have been sacked.
Dhoni batted well under pressure and got the team to a respectable position on many occasions to make a comeback in the game. Others failed to lift their game and showed no guts as the English bowlers flattened the flat-pitch superstars.
Dhoni is the last man standing in the wake of exits by Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, all of whom retired in a short span. While Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan are on the last legs of their careers (if match fit), none in the present lot can fill their shoes.
Burdening one of them with added responsibility of leading the current team, could have a drawback. Remember what happened to West Indies in the 1980's when all the top players retired in a short span and the great West Indies team nose-dived.
Quite rightly, the system and the West Indies board was blamed for not paying heed to the bench strength. Dhoni has the experience and is willing to shoulder the extra burden along with batting and wicketkeeping. The baton of captaincy could be passed on smoothly and judiciously.
Tomorrow: The big IPL problem
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