Why India lost the second test
India went into the second test with their heads held high after an emphatic nine-wicket win against England.
Dhoni, looking to double the lead and make sure India could not lose the four match series, demanded a rank turner; which, after much speculation and debate,was provided.
India won the toss as well, and elected to bat first. With a square turner and a chance to bat first, India seemed destined for another win, but what happened was on the extreme contrary. On a track that turned square, many wouldn’t have predicted what happened – India lost the match by 10 wickets, being completely outplayed by an English side at home.
Dhoni probably miscalculated. England have what others don’t – two quality spin bowlers, who can hurt you on such tracks.
Panesar and Swann bowled an immaculate line and length at the correct pace and showed perseverance, bowling in the right areas for long. As a result, their efforts paid rich dividends and they claimed 19 wickets in the game. On the contrary, the Indian spinners could only manage nine wickets, half of what the English spinners got, even with a numerical advantage.
The reason for the above fact lies down to the pace with which the English bowlers bowled and the immaculate off-stump line, combined with a fuller length. The Indian spinners need to get out of the limited overs mindset and start bowling more on the off stump, rather than cramping them for room. Another thing that contributed to the poor show was that they didn’t learn from the English spinners about the kind of pace to bowl on the track. The Indian spinners seemed to still be hungover from the Motera win, and bowled with a similar pace, and as a result helping England come back in the series.
Are only the bowlers at fault? Not at all. The so-called ‘best batting lineup’ failed to adapt on the wicket. They were too relaxed. They also let the English spinners settle and didn’t try going after them and put the pressure right back on them. Test cricket is not about hitting bowlers out of the park, but going into a shell is a complete no-no too.
Digging deeper, the Indian captain was at his usual defensive best, allowing easy singles and hence the partnerships to flourish. Ask bowlers and they would tell you that they like to bowl to a batsman for long and try and out-think him; but with his field-placements, Dhoni played it into England’s hands. The partnership between Cook and Pietersen took the game away from the Indians.
Pietersen showed the intent to go after the spin unlike the Indian batsmen, and he was the difference.
Another poor decision that Dhoni made was with the opening bowlers. He should have gone in with Zaheer, and along with him tried to make the most of the new ball with Harbhajan Singh, who is also experienced with the new ball at the international level.
The Indian middle order is not as good at playing spin as it was earlier with the likes of Dravid and Laxman. The best player of spin in India’s ranks is their opening batsman Gambhir. On the other hand, the English, known as poor players of spin, have played spin much better; especially the likes of Cook, along with Pietersen, and Matt Prior to an extent.
In India things are as such – one win creates a lot of hype, a loss even more.
Dhoni should realise that the Indian spinners aren’t as good as he thinks. The English spinners have done superbly well and another rank turner could spell trouble for India. They should be wary of that in the third test when they sit down to strategise. However, Dhoni looks a little stubborn in this regard.
Let’s hope India can come back and win the series.