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India vs. England: Can India Comeback In This Series?

Tim Holt
Editor's Pick
835   //    26 Jul 2011, 06:07 IST

You didn’t even have to be there to know what was being said to explain the India loss. The long held fact that they are slow starters in series coupled with the injuries they experienced during the match. That essentially made it 11 fit English players against 8 fit Indian players.

Lets dissect Team India in it’s current state and it’s prospects going forward

The slow starters excuse smacks of amateurish preparation in a ruthlessly professional game, that should in no way be deemed acceptable. Conversely, the injured players as a way to excuse the defeat has merit. Especially when you look at the players who were struck with injury blows: India’s spearhead Zaheer Khan and the two diamonds from it’s stellar batting line up in Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. This was accentuated by their master mauler Virender Sehwag being out too

In the wake of the injuries you can justify India’s performance, but if you dig a bit deeper into the state of the team, you start to worry about their potential of being able to come back into the series.

The key concern naturally is the injuries and the fact that the next Test is just 3 days away. Whatever way you look at it, there is little sense in playing Zaheer Khan and as such he won’t be involved in the 2nd test. So, India losing the leader of it’s attack is already a killer blow, but a comparison of him and his possible replacements quite literally puts salt in a gaping wound

Zaheer Khan 79 Tests, 273 wickets, average 31.78 (In England, 8 Tests, 31 wickets, average 27.96)

Munaf Patel  13 Tests, 35 wickets, average 38.54 (No experience in England)

Sreesanth 24 Tests, 79 wickets, average 35.16 (In England, 3 Tests, 9 wickets, average 37.55)

The duo need to put in some strong performances

Huge loss for India in so many ways, as embodied in the experience of the length of his career and the consistent excellence of his figures. Plus Zaheer’s lethal effect against left hand batsmen will be lost, and what are three key members of the English batting line up in Strauss, Cook and Morgan…lefties.

Then there is also the possibility of Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar being absent from Trent Bridge. In truth, the injury to Virender Sehwag and being 1 nil down in the series would mean that even if both are under the weather, they will still be forced to play for the Team.

Though if this was deemed impossible it would be cataclysmic for India. For in Gambhir’s case, it would mean India would enter a 2nd Test being 1 nil down without an established opener. So they’d have to put a patch work quilt arrangement up at the top which is never a recepe for success. Then in Sachin’s case, what team wouldn’t miss a batsmen likened to the immortal Don Bradman?

If we divert away from the things we have no control over in terms of injuries, there are issues on the field that don’t promise good things in this series as we go forward either. The key points of concern are crucial players in the line up: Harbhajan Singh and M.S.Dhoni

Firstly on Harbhajan. His performances have been on the wane for a while and after this insipid performance, where his match total was 1/218, he was impotent in the extreme and then on top of this the English batsmen just milked him. So he wasn’t even successful in a defensive bowling role. Then his valued batting at 8 was neutralised too.

If stats speak, these are shouting for Harbhajan to be dropped from the team. Though it is likely that India will just brush this off as a bad performance and retain Harbhajan. In the knowledge that his replacement Amit Mishra, though a very promising leg spin bowler, is very much unproven at Test level. His non selection would be assured by the fact that he lacks the added dimension of skill in batting, that for some reason India values in selecting bowlers in Tests

As for M.S.Dhoni, the Indian’s Skippers performance was summed up by viewing his part time bowling as being the highlight of his Test. In his main roles as keeper, captain and batsmen, the first two were complete rubbish and the latter very average. Though Dhoni has been very average for most of 2011 with a batting average of just over 17 highlighting this fact. We will show faith in his ability to rise as a player.

Crucially though for India, now they are down in the series, we don’t extend the same faith in his Captaincy to facilitate a turn around in the series. His acutely defensive mannerisms won’t allow a proactive thought in team changes or more attack minded tactics on the field. So India as such will always be at a disadvantage. I’m in no way painting a promising picture for Team India, am I?

Raina looked at ease

Duly I am being incompetent in not mentioning the promising aspects that came out of the match. Namely the excellent bowling of Praveen, the lethal spell of Ishant, the mature and accomplished batting of Suresh Raina and a typical Rahul Dravid classic.

In a small sense silver lining for foreboding gloomy clouds. That might be cold comfort for a harsh reality as the series goes forward.

Tim Holt
Cricket through the eyes of an Irishman. Do check out more on my blog <a href="">atouchofirishintheglobalvillage</a>
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