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The English Invasion: The war's not over yet

Nikhil M Nair
ANALYST
Editor's Pick
916   //    10 Dec 2012, 11:30 IST

FILE PHOTO: LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 22: Tim Bresnan of England celebrates the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar of India with team mates during day five of the 4th npower Test Match between England and India at The Kia Oval on August 22, 2011 in London, England.

Yup, the British have trashed the place. Again. There’s no denying that. All through the month, barring the strut-in-the-park that was Motera, India’s strategies and schemes have been reminiscent of the Coyote’s attempts to barbeque/blow up the Road-runner. It was the most professional display of hara-kiri you’d ever hope to see, even as recently-crowned-and-hung-over West Indians are getting sucker-punched in the neighborhood.

But like they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That explains why Captain Stone-Cold has decided to stay.      

However, things are not all that bad. To quote Lenny Kravitz in the early 90s, ‘It Ain’t Over ’til It’s over.’ Hell no, Nagpur’s coming up and the series is as alive as Marilyn Monroe’s skirt caught in a draft over an exhaust vent. Clearly, India are not winning it, and the talk of “four-zero-flawless-victory” has long died down, but there is as good a chance as any to win a game of Test cricket starting this Thursday.

That’s right hotheads: one baby step at a time, that’s how we should have rolled from Day One. Vengeance is sweet, yes, but pride always goes before a nasty, spectacular fall. Mahatma Gandhi wisely said that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Such a tragedy that the Angrez had to remind us that.

For all the copious amount of notes that you mug up before an exam, it all boils down to how you actually perform in the exam hall. Likewise, demanding pitches like a spoilt rich brat demanding a Ferrari for his birthday and throwing a tantrum when father shows up with a Porsche is not going to help matters. By the looks of it, the only people who get workouts whenever we host a series are the curators and ground-staff.

India have been outplayed; heck, it was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre at Mumbai and Kolkata.

Where did we go wrong? Batsmen getting out while trying to reenact My Little Pony against the likes of Panesar, Swann and more recently Anderson? Or was it simply a case of MSD making all the wrong bets? Or, heaven forbid, is it because Ashwin has made it a habit to rack up decent half-centuries?

Look back over your shoulder and you find things are not as bad as they seem to be. Virender Sehwag has been getting out in the most comical of ways, otherwise he does look in good touch and it is an established fact that the day he lasts over 15 overs or so is the day bowlers call up lawyers about their wills. If only he’d learn to value his wicket a bit more.

FILE PHOTO: LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 22: Graeme Swann of England celebrates the wicket of Gautam Gambhir of India during day five of the 4th npower Test Match between England and India at The Kia Oval on August 22, 2011 in London, England.

Gautam Gambhir has had two decent innings to show, innings that showed grit and character. Cheteshwar Pujara is no Rahul Dravid, at least not yet, but the couple of times that he was dismissed cheaply were to fantastic deliveries.

Sachin Tendulkar, sigh, you never know when he’d come up like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. The last of the Old Masters, you just need him in your Test batting line-up. Plus, he has shown signs of resurgence; now all he needs is that one good day.

Down the order, Ravindra Jadeja is coming in, fresh from his triple-triple-tons feat. That should amount to something here. Virat Kohli looks angrier each time he gets dismissed cheaply, and people at the opposite end are always wary that he’d rip out of his pants and become an enormous green-rage-monster. You might argue that Dhoni had as much reason to be axed as Yuvraj Singh, but you cannot cut off the head and expect an organism to live and breathe.

The bowling attack has been lethal in a way that they could perhaps bore the English batsmen to death. Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin have bowled more deliveries this past week that they did in any given season of the IPL combined, and have come up as dry as a cork. This, when MSD pampered them with surfaces that should have given the spinners multiple orgasms.

Now Zak’s gone and so is Bhajji and the selectors have opted for a leg-spinner in the form of Piyush Chawla. Delhi speedster Parvinder Awana also finds a spot, a relatively-unknown bowler who has had a fine domestic season. In summary, uncharted waters for Cook and Co.

The second week of December in Nagpur looks hot, hot, hot. Simmer down those hate-rants and Indian-cricket-inspired humor, people.

It’s not over yet.

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Nikhil M Nair
ANALYST
Insatiable reader and perpetual pragmatist. Cricket veered me away from the depression that failure at grasping integral calculus had left me in. A small-town product who dreams of being remembered for having written stuff worth reading.
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