India fumbles and tumbles from bad to worse


Cheteshwar Pujara – classy batsman

By Kersi Meher-Homji
Wish we can press the delete button in real life as we do on the computer keyboard!
Everything was roses and glories for Indian cricket till 2 April 2011 ehen they won the World Cup with Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and others in sparkling form, led boldly and efficiently by MS Dhoni.
Then on, it was from sublime to not-so-good to ridiculous. The slide has been dramatic in all forms of the game, especially in Tests.
In June-July 2011 India (without Tendulkar) narrowly beat West Indies in the West Indies in Tests (1-0), one-day internationals (3-2) and T20 (1-0).
Not bad but not worthy of a World Cup champion and a team ranked highly in Test arena.
Then the real slide started in England, losing the Test series 0-4. Worse was to follow in Australia, losing the Test series 0-4 as also not making the final in the ODIs ”“ losing to both Australia and Sri Lanka. They really went down under in down under!
But Indians consoled themselves. India’s record is usually terrible overseas but terrific at home. Let England visit India and we’ll slaughter them, seemed to be their catch phrase. “We have not lost to them since 1984-85, revenge will be sweet”, the players and selectors appeared to hum in unison.
And it went according the script in the first Test in Ahmedabad last month when India thrashed England by 9 wickets. Sehwag scored a quick-fire century and Cheteshwar Pujara a magnificent 206 not out. Left-arm spinner Pragyan took 9 wickets in the match. And we chanted: Happy days are here again!
The retirements of master batsmen Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman was not even felt.
We may be mice overseas but we are tigers at home, reported the cricket writers.
But instead of roaring in the remaining three Tests in Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagpur, they rolled like obedient pups at the hands of England batsmen Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and bowlers Graeme Swann, ”˜Monty’ Panesar and Jimmy Anderson.
Thanks to Cook’s clever captaincy and their spin twins Panesar and Swann, England won by10 wickets in Mumbai and 7 wickets in Kolkata. By drawing the last Test in Nagpur England won the Test series 2-1, their first Test series win in India in 27 years.
Apart from classy batsman Pujara in the first two Tests and spinner Ojha throughout, the rest were disappointing. In the final Test Virat Kohli (103) and Dhoni (99 run out) added 198 runs for the fifth wicket. But it proved too little too late.


Pragyan Ojha marvellous spinning
Apart from his 76 in the Kolkata Test, Tendulkar was most disappointing. Are we seeing the last of this marvellous batsman who dominated world cricket from 1989 to 2011?
Preparing pitches for spinners backfired on India as England had better spinners in Panesar and Swann.
One hopes India fights back in the limited-overs matches against England in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Rajkot.

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