England Lord it over Team India in the First Test
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had this to say about the first Test loss at Lord’s: “What could go wrong, went wrong.”
MSD attributed India’s defeat to three factors: Zaheer Khan’s injury, consequently the lack of a third seamer (the Jharkhand native rolled his arm over to fill in for the injured Zaheer) and misfortunes (Gautam Gambhir’s elbow blow and Sachin Tendulkar’s viral flu) that forced the reshuffling of the batting order in the final innings.
The positives that Team India can take from the loss are the exploits of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Abhinav Mukund and Suresh Raina—all of whom carried the Indian batting in the West Indies. Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma continued the tradition of Indian pacers outdoing themselves in helpful conditions abroad.
The England captain, Andrew Strauss, hailed his side’s performance as “outstanding” crediting Kevin Pietersen and the bowling unit for their pizzazz on the field.
Kevin Pietersen did the job expected of a Tendulkar for the home side, contributing 202 vital runs in the first innings. The margin of victory was 196 runs—no prizes for guessing why the South African born cricketer was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
England’s batting stars are on the verge of greatness; there will be more stirring deeds in the coming years. Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior underlined their credentials. Stuart Broad may have the makings of an Ian Botham—against lacklustre bowling. Chris Tremlett and Jimmy Anderson are no slackers and Graeme Swann is always a threat.
The last time Kevin Pietersen scored a double, it was a 227 against Australia last year at Adelaide. We all know how that series ended. Is there a similar hiding in store for the Indians?
Former English captain Nasser Hussain slammed the Indian side as being a ‘ragged’ unit showing up woefully unprepared and lacking much needed match-practice. Small consolation for the Indian fans that the 2000th Test match and 100th between the two sides was not a damp squib.
Does MS Dhoni deserve his Test spot?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to step up in the batting department. His average in Test cricket is a lowly 38.32 with four hundreds and 21 half-centuries in 58 Tests. He is considered the best wicket-keeper batsman Team India has ever produced. Statistics do not indicate otherwise. Among ‘keepers who have played 40 Tests or more, Farokh Engineer is the next best with 31.08 from 46 matches.
Among current wicket-keeper batsmen, the Indian ranks fourth after Matt Prior (45.4), Kumara Sangakarra (42.7) and Brad Haddin (39.68). Over the past 12 months, Dhoni has chalked up 601 runs in 14 Tests at a measly average of 28.61 and a highest score of 98. It’s time the Indian skipper came to the party.
Poor performances can be overlooked as long as the team brings home the bacon—not when there’s cold salami on the table.