England in India 2012-13 December 7, 2012

India show how it shouldn't be done

And debating the impregnability of Alastair Cook
90

Things You Should Try To Avoid Doing Early On The Second Afternoon Of A Test Match, Number 1: When fielding at slip, after your team has posted an inadequate first-innings total, and with a rampantly in-form run-machine facing your primary pace bowler early in his innings, drop a straightforward catch.

Cheteshwar Pujara has not had a good match so far. He followed his first-day failures, clean bowled by Panesar, with a fielding blooper of disastrous consequence yesterday. With Cook already settling with ominous care, the one Indian to have advanced his reputation so far this series shelled a low but relatively simple catch, when the England skipper edged during a fine spell by Zaheer.

The reaction of the Indian players and crowd - a disappointedly irritated wheeze, as if they had just accidentally dropped their great aunt's ashes into the pancake mixture at her funeral (rendered even worse by the fact that she had suffered from a lifelong flour allergy) ‒ suggested that everyone in Eden Gardens knew that Cook would now inevitably score a large, untroubled and subsequently-chanceless century.

This he did with alarming ease, perfect shot-selection, and an impregnable authority, as India meekly subsided with some minimal-intensity cricket. This Indian team is unlikely to feature in too many Greatest Fielding Units Of The 21st Century documentaries, and they appeared resigned to what they seemed to accept as their fate as soon as the great-aunt-ash-fumbling shock had subsided.

Over the last 18 months, Dhoni's team have been embarrassingly easily deflated in the field in Test matches. Yesterday's play was reminiscent of the 2011 series, when they often seemed to be doing little more to force the fall of a wicket than hoping that the batsmen would be so relaxed by the lack of pressure being applied on them, that they would hallucinate that there was a poisonous anaconda crawling up their middle stump, and try to thwack it off with their bats. The hit-snakewicket dismissals have not materialised, however, partly because their opponents have maintained their concentration, and partly because anacondas are not poisonous, so even in the event of the hallucination being successfully provoked, the batsmen would correctly write it off as a figment to be ignored.

Dhoni again did little to try to force errors from the batsmen. Compton began his innings defiantly but strokelessly, offering nothing to the bowlers and even less to the spectator. When he had scored 10 off 47 balls, he was facing Zaheer - with a deep backward point. Had Dhoni seen something in the Somerset Sedative's demeanour that suggested he was about to unleash an upper-cut for six, or try to reserve sweep India's lead pacer over the fence?

Maybe he had. In which case, the strategy worked. Compton did not attempt to upper-cut or reverse sweep Zaheer for six. So, in hindsight, it was clearly tactically sound. Although it did not immediately appear so at the time.

When a previously-hideously-out-of-form Trott came to the wicket late in the day, he was not greeted by a ring of close catchers trying to prey on the doubts that were so patent in his previous innings in the series. Granted, this was the first time this series he had come in to bat with England in a position of dominance, but he must have been delighted to face a field of one slip, a short leg, and a ring of bizarrely-placed fielders set too deep to save the single. Trott also resisted the temptation to chip a ball half-way to the boundary.

Cook, meanwhile, is the kind of ice-hearted batsman to take full toll of such generosity. In current form, expecting him to give more than one chance to a fielding side is like waiting for the Pope to moon the crowd in St Peter's Square. It is not going to happen.

He (Cook, not the Pope) now tops the list of Most Test Hundreds By An England Player. Such landmarks are of academic interest, given the vastly increased amount of cricket played by Cook's generation compared to some of the men he has overtaken, and the increased frequency with which hundreds are scored - 2.04 per Test since 2000, 23% higher than the 1.65 per Test scored between 1945 and 1999. Of more relevance is the fact that he is in the middle of one of the purplest patches an England batsman has ever enjoyed, playing with a technical certainty that escaped him earlier in his career, a range of shots that means he can score at a good rate whilst primarily playing defensively, and an authority that suggests that he will establish himself as one of England's all-time cricketing greats, as well as the statistical phenomenon he has already become. That said, in England's two toughest series of the last two years since he found form in Australia, he failed in the UAE against Pakistan, and, after a superb first-day-of-the-series century, at home against South Africa. He is not impregnable. But India are making him look so, with bowling that is as toothless as an orange, and fielding with the fervour of a long-forgotten boiled lettuce.

All the while, the patient Eden Gardens crowd roared adequate pieces of fielding as if they had just seen someone juggled ten piranhas without getting bitten even once, and generously, loudly, applauded England's players. The support given by the spectators in the crowd to the 11 spectators on the field hinted at the atmosphere that could be created if India find a way to break the back of the England batting this morning. On yesterday's evidence, that is looking like an industrially-sized 'if', but it is not inconceivable.

More aggressive and inventive tactics in the field yesterday might have made a difference. They might not have made a difference. We will never know.

Some stats:

Ashwin stat: R Ashwin bowled at Cook with the air of a man who suspected strongly that he would not be unleashing his new personal wicket celebration any time soon. Since inducing a misjudged cut in the first innings of the series, he has now bowled 58.2 overs at England's bulwark, and taken his wicket once, for a total of 167 runs. And that once was after Cook had already completed his Mumbai century.

Cook, however, is the nearest thing Ashwin has to a 'bunny' in England's top order. Since the first innings in Ahmedabad, he is the only top-seven batsman the offspinner has dismissed. In 639 balls, 1 for 329 off 106.3 overs are his figures against England's top seven in the last four innings. Which is not ideal.

Ishant stat: Ishant Sharma bowled creditably but wicketlessly, and looked as confident as you would expect a bowler to be who has not taken more than two wickets in any of his previous nine Tests. In those games, he reaped the meagre harvest of 12 wickets at 87.

Cook stat: England's new standalone record century maker, against all teams other than Bangladesh and West Indies, November 2006 to October 2010: 36 matches, average 33, 4 centuries (out of 18 50-plus scores), highest score 118. Since the start of the Ashes in November 2010, against the same opposition: 23 matches, average 73, 10 centuries (out of 16 50-plus scores), including four scores over 175 (with the likelihood of another today).

Another Cook stat: By the close of day one, Cook has scored 82 of his 136 runs in boundaries - 60% - and scored at a strike rate of 57. Both of these figures are currently the highest he has recorded in any of the 21 centuries he has scored against countries other than Bangladesh.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ranjit on December 9, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    yes lets admit that we have put up a string of dismal shows but blaming dhoni and compelling sachin alone cannot turn the cards in our favour.

  • ANIL KUMAR on December 9, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    hi to all ! i think MS DHOONI must be replaced from the test team . his place should be only in the odi team only.

  • Asif on December 9, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    well to be fair Ashwin is overall good all round cricketer but he is not a genuine off spinner, a very talented guy and could be called economically best spinner in indian squad due to the so called modern mystery in cricket or if we call the stunts in modern cricket but its useful only when the batsman is tryng to put the ball in the stands immediately when they gets their turn. In Tests you need wicket taking bowlers, harbajan singh no doubt not the best as compared to ashwin in odi's or t20's. but in the tests if he was there in the last one the result as far as am concerned might be abit tighter.

  • Jignesh on December 8, 2012, 22:52 GMT

    There is saying in India that "Chullu bhar paani me doob maro". This is the situation of Indian so called great batsmen such as Tendulkar, Gmabhir, Sehwag, Kohli, Yuvi, and Dhoni. Batting order at No. 7, the bowler-R. Ashwin always plays better and survives more deliveries in each innings than most of these so called greats. R. Ashwin can make runs even playing with tailenders. This is not the first time he has done this, but this is quiet second time he has done this in only 11 test, but this so called Indian greats never ever played this kind when they have played with tailenders in their entire careers. Most of them stays cool and not-out even the wickets falls at the other end. Ravindra Jadeja is in his extreme form blasting 2 triple centuries in current domestic season playing at No.4 in his side. Why selectors giving chances again and again to Kohli, Yuvi, Dhoni, and Raina who are T20 and ODIs greats only.

  • dgt2 on December 8, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    Dear fans, Why are you so biased ...in the few comments above why do we see Aswins name alone when it comes to bowling. As mature fans it is only fare that you understand Batsman are more intimidated by opponents score to start with, then what is the contribution of our opening bowlers? lets stop finding a scape goat be honest in finding the root cause .Fletcher,Dhoni,Zahir,virat,yuvraj,sachin,gauti,ishant Ashwin,schwag ,ojha ......would make my list.

  • JustIPL on December 8, 2012, 2:34 GMT

    Offcourse english batsmen had faced the ultimate bowling of ajmal and rahman and that is why the lowly rated indian attack is not that threatening for them. Please note indian bowlers have been given the home conditions while pakistanis had to do in UAE which is no home ground for them.

  • Seb Onate on December 8, 2012, 2:16 GMT

    Boiled lettuce? Is there anything the English won't boil?

  • maharajbaiju on December 8, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    Right now the team India is playing with 50 + T20 player's , Only thing Raina is not there with his absent pujara is doing , But people feel he is the other Dravid . Every thing is ok , these 11 player's they dont have patient they feel they want to make a Century with in 50 over's or below 20 overs that is their mind set . so BCCI must set-up a new TEST playing team for India , with the new wicket keeper , new opener's , new bollower's along with a NEW CAPTAIN. before Australia team arrive . There are lot of Talents in Domestic cricket then why they don't NOTICED .

  • sceptic64 on December 8, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    Jeet,

    If Andy is "biased towards England" it is because England have dominated India in the last two matches. India now look as they did when the teams last met - in England - last year. This is the time when you need a captain to stand up and lead: an Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Graeme Smith. MS Dhoni is not that man.

    He is a capable player but no leader: tactically poor and no motivator. England have the upper hand and Cook, in particular, poses a question to which you have no answer. But I see nothing from Dhoni: no leadership, no originality. Have they even analysed Cook's game? Because I see no evidence of a plan.

    I wouldn't drop him, but you need a new leader.

    As to the rest of your team? Well, we always knew India would be in transition. You had some great batsmen who grew old together and the best of them are now gone. Your pace bowling cupboard appears bare (Ishant Sharma - lol..). And Panesar and Swann are better than Ashwin and Ojha.

    India have problems. Face it.

  • Scorer on December 7, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    It should be noted that Alastair Cook actually scored 22 centuries in the same number of tests as Wally Hammond, as well as Hammond playing in some of the "Timeless Tests". He then scored his 23rd century in one extra match. How, then, does the fact that more tests are played now than then make any difference? Geoffrey Boycott and Colin Cowdrey took more tests to get there!

  • Ranjit on December 9, 2012, 10:44 GMT

    yes lets admit that we have put up a string of dismal shows but blaming dhoni and compelling sachin alone cannot turn the cards in our favour.

  • ANIL KUMAR on December 9, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    hi to all ! i think MS DHOONI must be replaced from the test team . his place should be only in the odi team only.

  • Asif on December 9, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    well to be fair Ashwin is overall good all round cricketer but he is not a genuine off spinner, a very talented guy and could be called economically best spinner in indian squad due to the so called modern mystery in cricket or if we call the stunts in modern cricket but its useful only when the batsman is tryng to put the ball in the stands immediately when they gets their turn. In Tests you need wicket taking bowlers, harbajan singh no doubt not the best as compared to ashwin in odi's or t20's. but in the tests if he was there in the last one the result as far as am concerned might be abit tighter.

  • Jignesh on December 8, 2012, 22:52 GMT

    There is saying in India that "Chullu bhar paani me doob maro". This is the situation of Indian so called great batsmen such as Tendulkar, Gmabhir, Sehwag, Kohli, Yuvi, and Dhoni. Batting order at No. 7, the bowler-R. Ashwin always plays better and survives more deliveries in each innings than most of these so called greats. R. Ashwin can make runs even playing with tailenders. This is not the first time he has done this, but this is quiet second time he has done this in only 11 test, but this so called Indian greats never ever played this kind when they have played with tailenders in their entire careers. Most of them stays cool and not-out even the wickets falls at the other end. Ravindra Jadeja is in his extreme form blasting 2 triple centuries in current domestic season playing at No.4 in his side. Why selectors giving chances again and again to Kohli, Yuvi, Dhoni, and Raina who are T20 and ODIs greats only.

  • dgt2 on December 8, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    Dear fans, Why are you so biased ...in the few comments above why do we see Aswins name alone when it comes to bowling. As mature fans it is only fare that you understand Batsman are more intimidated by opponents score to start with, then what is the contribution of our opening bowlers? lets stop finding a scape goat be honest in finding the root cause .Fletcher,Dhoni,Zahir,virat,yuvraj,sachin,gauti,ishant Ashwin,schwag ,ojha ......would make my list.

  • JustIPL on December 8, 2012, 2:34 GMT

    Offcourse english batsmen had faced the ultimate bowling of ajmal and rahman and that is why the lowly rated indian attack is not that threatening for them. Please note indian bowlers have been given the home conditions while pakistanis had to do in UAE which is no home ground for them.

  • Seb Onate on December 8, 2012, 2:16 GMT

    Boiled lettuce? Is there anything the English won't boil?

  • maharajbaiju on December 8, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    Right now the team India is playing with 50 + T20 player's , Only thing Raina is not there with his absent pujara is doing , But people feel he is the other Dravid . Every thing is ok , these 11 player's they dont have patient they feel they want to make a Century with in 50 over's or below 20 overs that is their mind set . so BCCI must set-up a new TEST playing team for India , with the new wicket keeper , new opener's , new bollower's along with a NEW CAPTAIN. before Australia team arrive . There are lot of Talents in Domestic cricket then why they don't NOTICED .

  • sceptic64 on December 8, 2012, 0:01 GMT

    Jeet,

    If Andy is "biased towards England" it is because England have dominated India in the last two matches. India now look as they did when the teams last met - in England - last year. This is the time when you need a captain to stand up and lead: an Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Graeme Smith. MS Dhoni is not that man.

    He is a capable player but no leader: tactically poor and no motivator. England have the upper hand and Cook, in particular, poses a question to which you have no answer. But I see nothing from Dhoni: no leadership, no originality. Have they even analysed Cook's game? Because I see no evidence of a plan.

    I wouldn't drop him, but you need a new leader.

    As to the rest of your team? Well, we always knew India would be in transition. You had some great batsmen who grew old together and the best of them are now gone. Your pace bowling cupboard appears bare (Ishant Sharma - lol..). And Panesar and Swann are better than Ashwin and Ojha.

    India have problems. Face it.

  • Scorer on December 7, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    It should be noted that Alastair Cook actually scored 22 centuries in the same number of tests as Wally Hammond, as well as Hammond playing in some of the "Timeless Tests". He then scored his 23rd century in one extra match. How, then, does the fact that more tests are played now than then make any difference? Geoffrey Boycott and Colin Cowdrey took more tests to get there!

  • mahendra on December 7, 2012, 22:15 GMT

    Nothing like a near death experience to liberate the spirit. Many a good batsman given a 'life' has gone onto play a big innings with assurance. On that count alone dropping a catch is a crime. By the way, is Cook beginning to develop a careless 190's syndrome?

  • surajit on December 7, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    No point in criticising. This reflect the Indian society today. Full of corruption, no pride, no enthusiasm, chaos, dadagiri , zero value of talent. We are criticising cricket, Look anywhere it is same. We need a revolution to change ourselves.

  • Imran on December 7, 2012, 21:09 GMT

    How can you forgot the lollipop missed catch by Ishant Sharma of his own bowling...

  • Sigismund on December 7, 2012, 21:05 GMT

    I hope you've got a list of all your sobriquets somewhere; will you publish it? My long term favourite has been 'The Kandy Konjuror'. Your recent unfurling, 'The Rajkot Rock', was beautifully apt; but 'The Somerset Sedative' is a stroke of genius. I hope, however, that it dies young, like much brilliance. I won't be able to tolerate it for too long; and besides, I suspect he'll soon get over it and show that he's got a few shots.

  • Sigismund on December 7, 2012, 20:55 GMT

    Furthermore, I notice a particular lustre to your observations when you have been watching at the ground. Now I wouldn't bandy this lightly, but there is a touch of Blowers about it: the gift of bringing the audience into the venue with you, of stimulating their imaginations and vastly enriching their experience of the game at a distance. Please tell the fellows at Cricinfo that it is vital for the spiritual well-being of millions of cricket fans that you are deployed to comment on more matches from first-hand experience.

  • Ram on December 7, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    Dhoni should stop playing test cricket - period. He is still good for one day and T-20. In test matches, somehow he projects a "deer in front of the headlights" look, no positive body langauge, no talking with bowlers/fielders etc. When the opponent is going strong for about 200 plus runs without losing much wickets, won't anybody try to think differently to break partnerships - few overs to Shewag, even Sachin to see if the batsmen will make a careless mistake - what is the point persisting with Ashwin - god he is the most over rated bowler in the world and the ordinary Ojha?. Do we have any young spinners around? find them and groom them. Looks like this test is heading England's way!

  • Dazed&Confused on December 7, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    The problem with Dhoni is that he comes about with this certain game plan which he deeply believes in. And he seldom has a plan B. So when his main line of attack fails, he has nothing to fall back on to. He lacks the kind of patience a captain needs in test matches, let alone have the street smarts. No man in a sane mind would make the kind of field placements that he made today, especially when the English tail was almost in India's grasp.

  • Sigismund on December 7, 2012, 20:43 GMT

    Andy, I have before noted your mastery of the simile; but today you have struck excelled yourself. There is no conceivable thing with less fervour than a long-forgotten boiled lettuce. Genius. Ave!

  • K Sivarajan on December 7, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    Indians ( players and fans) have been in denial about their status in world cricket for the last 2 years. When Dhoni asked for a rank turner from Day 1 it told us about the confidence he had in his team. The performance has gone from bad to worse. The question is whether it is going to be another thrashing this time in our own back yard. It is to be seen if they can turn it around or they continue to play poor cricket for the rest of the series. Changing personnel at this stage of the series is a sign of desperation and probably will not change the outcome. In addition Indian fans come across as arrogant to most fans from other cricket playing nations and be seen by these fans as our come uppance. Maybe we all need a reality check.

  • Ashwin on December 7, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    i think we need spin bowler like Saeed Ajmal

  • Ashwin on December 7, 2012, 20:17 GMT

    this is big slap on our face, u remmeber pakistan beat england earlier this year, so how we are saying very on top, infect are well behind in front of England,pakistan australia south africa

  • Natasha webster on December 7, 2012, 20:04 GMT

    what a shame that a country of over a billion is buried in nepotism. Most of indian players are too rich to bend their backs and win a match on true merit. Offering the weakest bowling in spin doctored pitch, terrible butter fingers, unfit and tired and unimaginative bowlers guided by a captain who is too busy counting his endorsements and looks listless, uninspiring. To add to the misery, ex-players in the commentary box are docile, soft bellied to tell the truth of shameful performers on field. BCCI is in deep denial. They are like our PM who thinks India is Shining. Maybe we should all pretend to be blind and wait for IPL all over again and watch some lusty hitters thumping local boys, while providing entertainment to drunk spectators. India is a failure in every aspect. A soft state that has managed to become a laughing stock.

  • Al on December 7, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    I remember, in 2011 a commentor @Rumy1 said "still think Ashwin is a Ranji level off spinner who has a good carrom ball". I didn't agree with him then, but now I can see that Ojha is only test call spinner in India at the moment. Not Ashwin, not Harbhajan.

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/india-v-west-indies-2011/content/story/542225.html?comments=all#comments

  • alwarming on December 7, 2012, 19:48 GMT

    Dhoni is the new Kumble.

    (Except Kumble made up for the defensive captaincy with his bowling).

  • Cygnus on December 7, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    Every side has the odd bad game, but India's is a trend. Great sides bank on discipline when the chips are down. It does not work on every occasion, but it does offer the best chance of limiting damage and creating chances. This is the glaring and consistent deficiency in India's performances over the last 18 months. Going through the motions at such a regularly alarming frequency can only point to one thing, we need fresh blood. In Ahmedabad, it was Umesh Yadav who provided that X factor along with Pujara. The Indian team also needs discipline. I do believe that the days of Sehwag and Gambhir are over in this context. However, let us not forget how many fighting knocks Tendulkar has delivered and continues to deliver for India. It is this, along with genuine bowling promise that India needs. Ashwin has now been tried and tested for 18 months, why not Harbhajan for the next test? The Indian team needs depth, discipline and teeth. Will they be brave enough to chop and change Nagpur?

  • sanjib rout on December 7, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Shame on indian cricketer and selector. england came here and show us our talent

  • Shan on December 7, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    Ishant's stats in the last few tests are really horrible - 12 wickets at 87 each? That ought to be the worst stats of any bowler going around in world cricket atm. However, he is not that bad as his numbers show. He is also one of the unluckiest bowlers going around in world cricket atm. He is partly to blame. I think he lost concentration on the c&b chance that Cook offered yesterday due to his hair falling in front of his eyes. He says he doesn't have time to get a haircut. That is one of the stupidest things to say.

  • Sudhakar on December 7, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    Scrap that buffoonery called IPL! Drastically reduce the no. of ODIs. Make young players earn India colors not on basis of IPL bravado but by doing the hard yards in the first-class matches. Make sporting pitches (like Mohali) everywhere. Do away with dust bowls. Whatever happened to leg-spin in tests? Where is Amit Mishra? He's a decent leggie. For starters, drop MSD from Tests altogether. Make Sehwag as captain and see how he performs over, say, a couple of away series. We need pace academies everywhere. Pace clinics. Rope in legends like Kapil Dev, Srinath (or, foreign e-players) to run these, or, advise. But, whatever you do, BCCI, for God's sake, first jettison that circus they call IPL! IPL is destroying young talent in India and spoiling young players' minds...Think about it!

  • suresh on December 7, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    i dont understand why dhoni always supports mediocres like ashwin,murali vijay and ravindra jadeja.these fellows r heros only in national level.they dont deserve to play in international level.even this applies to dhoni in test cricket.

  • Anwar Khusro on December 7, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    So far in this test series we have been outclassed by England in every department of the game. Non of our batsmen are in form. Even Great Sachin had to grind himself to make 76 runs. As Andy says our bowling is toothless, we asked for turning pitches, we got them but English bowlers did what we were supposed to do. Our batsmen are supposedly good at playing spin bowling, but unable to handle Monty, he has taken 15 wickets in 3 innings that he has played so far. Every time team India travels abroad we kind of know the result, but now we have been convincingly beaten in our back yard, our strong point seems to be our weakness. English batsmen have played our spin bowling with great ease, and we have struggled against their spin bowling. We need to seriously look at our middle order batting and totally revamp our bowling attack. Only then we will find winning ways.

  • Amit on December 7, 2012, 17:47 GMT

    only way to save Indian cricket, Kill the IPL

  • Rajeev on December 7, 2012, 17:15 GMT

    Ishant Sharma bowl very predictable line and length. He will not get a wicket until batsman play a bat shot. He is harmless against left hander. Selectors need to try B kumar or Anikit Rajpoot both of them are very talented bowlers and B kumar is very good all rounder. Ravinder Jadeja can also be useful for test matches.

  • Krishna on December 7, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    Does Dhoni need a specific "Captaincy coach"?

  • murtaza s lokhandwala on December 7, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    dhoni is the worst indian test captain of all time.a captain who does not have the courage to go for a test victory against a west indian bowling attack needing 100 odd at a run a ball last year should have been axed at that moment.he and his team are money centric and without guts or a killer instinct.the contracted test players should not be allowed to play IPL or CHAMPIONS LEAGUE which is the CANCER of test cricket.these very players make so much money outside test cricket that failure does not bother their lives or careers.

  • Mubeen on December 7, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    i personally thing, Ashwin is not a test bowler by any mean, he has taken the wicket of KP, which is more of a false shot selection, and Ashwin was lucky to get the wicket, why there was no attacking field set by MSD ? why they did not attack ? i think there is major changes need's in the indian (Test) Team

  • Shukur on December 7, 2012, 16:16 GMT

    Selectors, bring Md. Kaif into the team, he is not like Yuvraj to throw away his wicket, he is not like Pujara to drop catches, he shows tremendous patience in batting under pressure that too on green pitches, he proved this more than enough in domestic cricket. He's been consistent from so many years. What else you need?

  • TRAM on December 7, 2012, 16:00 GMT

    How can every bowler in India fail for years at a stretch??? Please just think for a second. Captain has a role to play and its not happening. I Seriously wish some one like Ganguly or Kumble stands at the boundary line and helps the Indian captain on field setup and decision making.

  • Jas on December 7, 2012, 15:47 GMT

    This guy is hilarious....loved reading this and I am only on the 2nd paragraph!! LOL

  • rajesh nair pattathil on December 7, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    Although the match is not over it is really surprising to see england perform the they have been doing.andy flower and co should be congragulated for this fantastic english performance.it has been a very bad display of cricket by the indians that too in india.

  • RB on December 7, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    I still remember the comment that Sehwag made saying that Bangladesh cannot win tests against India because they couldn't take 20 wickets. Now India is very much in that same position as a bowling unit.

  • Cric Fan on December 7, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    I agree, Dhoni is better off palying the shorter version of game. It's more hard to loose in all the 8 overseas test matches in a row than to win or draw at least 1 match . You can only win test matches by taking 20 wickets All we need couple of match winner bowlers. I guess Zaheer can not pass his peak now considering his age, Harbhajan singh has lost his magic, however I sill prefer him over Ashwin at least in Test matches. The main reason for India's pathetihc perfomance is that Indian team havent yet found the replacement for match winner "Anil Kumble". I will be interesting to study the stats of Indian team winning/lossing ratio ever sine he's retired.

    And in this series we really miss one of world's best no 6: "artist VVS Laxman". May be we need to to give some more time to palyers like Raina and Yuvi to fill in the gap.

  • dr. nilesh kothare on December 7, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    when ashwin didnt run hard and caused a draw against the west indies in the mumbai test he was awarded man of the match award instead of penalising him, his indifferent and stupid attitude was rewarded. Why is he so special? Why are players like him and murali vijay who are never going to improve selected again? does dhoni lack the common sense just to tell his very talented in ipl bowlers just to bowl 6 good balls at the stumps and dont do anything else if test match bowling is rocket science for all the ipl greats. The english spinners dont have over variations they just stick to line and length and discipline. And did dhoni feel that virat kohli and co will void of v.v.s. laxman. Very clever of him. Dravid and laxman retiring soon and leaving two big gaps in the indian batting hoping that dhoni's young batsmen who love ipl and shorter formats will grind it out. They are just no capable. And above all, what is the coach doing, a coach as useless as duncan fletcher no other team has.

  • Harry on December 7, 2012, 14:34 GMT

    The article would have been funny if it wasn't true. It is as is somebody has forgotten to tell the Indian side that the game is about scoring runs while batting, taking wickets and saving runs while fielding. Can't play on wickets that bounce or seam, can't play on those low and slow ones, and can't play on spinning tracks. Maybe book cricket or even bookie cricket is about fine for us.

  • Cliff on December 7, 2012, 14:32 GMT

    India's best hope for tomorrow is that England come out wanting to score as much as possible even at a glacial pace allowing them to draw the match. What's more likely though is that Matt Prior (the world's best wicketkeeper-batsman other than that batsman-wicketkeeper from Sri Lanka) and His Merry Tailenders will come in and give India the old bish-bash-bosh for a hundred or so runs and put India in with 5 sessions left to play.

  • Jaytara on December 7, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    The Indians are flummoxed by the plethora of parts of speech in the English team, if it's not nouns like Cook, Bell, Fin(n) and Swan(n), along comes adjective Prior and the action-packed verb in Trot(t), but couldn't that be a noun too ? No wonder the Indians have the trots. And to cap it all there are the 2 Ps of Indian descent, Panesar and Patel.

  • Gautam Ray on December 7, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    Preoccupation with IPL is the problem. Test cricketers most of the time batted 1.5 to 2 days easily to save a match. India has lost ability to stay in the wicket and play it out.

  • Immy rr on December 7, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    How can some of you question Dhoni's captaincy? He's a good captain, he just has very average bowlers. The only bowler who is/was world class is Zaheer Khan, but even hes gotten older and lost pace. The rest of the bowlers are completely average. Even as a Pakistan fan, it hurts to see such a bad bowling line up in an international test match!

  • Shams on December 7, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    India don't have any bowlers. Period!

  • nitish kumar on December 7, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    this is the worst indian spin attack we have 4 last 50 years of cricket.but i think pak is coming 2 india and we will beat pakistan by paying some bucks.this shameful proformance will become history.we will start praising dhoni.no one cares abt TEST CRICKET in this country

  • Jay Rivers on December 7, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Actually Ashwin is saving his mystery ball, because if he bowled it, it would no longer be a mystery. Instead, he has been mysteriously trying to take wicket with his doosra, which is also called a long hop by the opposing batsmen.

  • Taimoor on December 7, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    If u want to win a test match you HAD to BOWL the opposition out. That's what EVERY great captain of yester years opine. Batsmen can win matches but only in either ODIs or T20s

  • resham chand on December 7, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    What a shower this so called "INDIAN TEST TEAM" is, lead by a man who smiles when he loses and has no idea how to get the opposition batsman into pressures situations. If we are to be thrashed then at least give some upcoming yougsters a chance. " remember the Aussies led by Alan Border, they got trounced but eventually became such a great team" Get rid of this shower, first the so called captain.

    Resham

  • multimils on December 7, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Indian team over glorified.This test match shows a cross section of failures.Batting dept can lean a lot from Alastair Cook's exemplary fight and ease with which he accomplished.Failures only there in Pujara and Ishant on unforgivable dropped dollies.Dhoni doesn't understand where to place? Slips are empty most of the time..when we could have truncated the century stands.Bowling is so abysmal.Cant we have rotational talents instead of Ashwin and Ishant.Captaincy needs a serious look and must be rotated...

  • Gaurav on December 7, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron should be in the team. bowlers win matches. Ashwin should be out. Let india play Ojha, Yuvraj, V Aaron, U Yadav, Zaheer k and Sandeep Sharma. If someone is injured out of these 6 include all rounder rahul sharma or all rounder ravindra jadeja or manoj tiwari in that order of preference. all bowlers should be under vigil and 2 consecutive bad matches should invoke selectors to get replacements. cricket is not socialism where bowlers are not shown the exit door when they are supposed to be shown. batsman too need to be under scrutiny including dhoni.

  • Jaswinder Singh on December 7, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    We could not play on seaming wickets, nor could we play on bouncing wickets, now we are learing that we can not play on turning wickets. So our 11 can paly in their dream wickets while sleeping and we assure them they will never be given out or bowlers will always take an hattrick.

    In any case our test team looks like and extension of the chennai IPL team, so Dhoni and Shriniwas good job done to make a formmer world number 1 team to a club team, keep going on. Dhoni will remain the captain irrespective of the number of losses becuase what matters most is the IPL sucess, who wants to slog for 5 days for the 1/4th of the price.

  • Ratish on December 7, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Wake Fletcher up

  • vinith on December 7, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    all ppl who talk about ashwin ....he holds the record for fastest indian to get fifty wickets ....he is having a bad time ....u shld support him ..not push for ur personal favorite ....no1's doing good .... yuvi,kholi... infact dhoni ......sachin ...shewag ....ask for these ppl's head ....oh i know ..u wont ask ...prob because they talk ur language ....or from ur place ....ashwin is an easy target for u guys ....

  • Milind on December 7, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    The hit-snakewicket dismissals ? Andy you are incredible

  • Hemadri on December 7, 2012, 12:13 GMT

    The entire team has to be revamped with youngsters & in 2 yrs time,they will make a good team.Even,if they fail,we need not worry as the current team also is failing.So,why not try youngsters in the age group of 20-25 instead of the agte group 30-35

  • Ananth on December 7, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Indian cricket is boring, un inspiring. Dhoni has overdone his calm and cool attitude. Its high time team needs a radical change. Make it interesting please. Winning or losing doesnt matter.

  • vetri on December 7, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    worst attitude form dhoni (give us spin pitch we will defeat them once given he shuts up).stop complaining about pitches. this is not england or australia. if u are complaining about pitches in ur own yard . u r not eligible to play for ur country.indian players play like school boys.cook has proved that he is world class player . even though india bowling attack is the worst i have ever seen . he is adapting beautifully.zaheer could not run and bowl . the way he bowls slow ball is irritating . he lost his international standards to take wickets. i dont know why ashwin is in test squad. england ll win this one and next test .

  • Diwakar on December 7, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    what we are seeing this team do is nothing but the effect of excessive limited over cricket and consequence of players earning huge for little work. Apart from the technical ill effects of T20 and club cricket, the fact that the players just do not seem to be aware of how to plot and win sessions in test cricket. I feel distressed when Dhoni sets a field and gives the ball to the bowler. Gone are the days when bowler used to set fields and stick to a particular line and method of attack, with the captain supporting it. The blame should majorly go to BCCI for wrong priorities.

  • suhail on December 7, 2012, 11:55 GMT

    award for duncan fletcher. should england be celebrating the coaching skills of fletcher(sic). it is a massive achievement to take the number one team in the world to such depths. it requires months of inaction and monumental stupidity. surely an award is due here. (p.s. to be shared with dhoni and the indian selectors)

  • Gani on December 7, 2012, 11:48 GMT

    Dhoni is getting aged and his reflexes are very poor being a wicket keeper. He has disrespected some of the older senior people like Kumble, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman and wanted the fresh legs. It is high time that he should quit or should be removed from Indian team for his continued pathetic performance behind the stumps and batting. His tactics as a captain are meaningless. He was riding the lady luck all these years, need to do some retrospection.

  • LALIT on December 7, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    I agree with comments by Jeet Roy.

    Its a game, please try avoiding hurting somoone feelings "great aunt’s ashes".

    Just be good reporter, and decide yourself how low you can go make a funny statement.

    Lalit

  • Ravi on December 7, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    I think the mystery ball Aswin was talking about is a mystery to him also...he is yet to find where it is. Not to mention his 100 kgs of weight on the field

  • Chandra Shekar on December 7, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    hai i can say that Indian cricket has to change The Coach & Captain & the players should play domestic cricket, than we can expect the good cricket. But the Indians are prefer to play only IPL, that way these kind of results are coming, if it goes same the Indian Cricket could finish soon. Fist BCCI should stop the IPL or at lest IPL should play for four to five weeks then the players could concentrate one longer format.

  • Vidit jain on December 7, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    I think there is no need for Zaheer khan,Ishant sharma,Gautam Ghambhir.., ajinkiya rahane, and Yadav should come... and there is need for unity in indian team

  • laramie on December 7, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    this shows pakistan is much better test team than india

  • Was-A-Cricket-Fan on December 7, 2012, 11:04 GMT

    The Indian bowling in toothless, atleast we used to perform better on Indian tracks and now that too has faded with other international teams learning to play spin well..... and to top it all the captain with an attitude............ BCCI should start thinking about banning Test Cricket atleast for the sake of India and promote only T20 & ODIs where our half-baked cricketers are useful. They have the clout to do it why not give it a try :-)

  • laramie on December 7, 2012, 11:02 GMT

    pak beat this english team 3 o

  • MNUGUDY RAMAMURTHY on December 7, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Long time ago we know Dhoni is not a Test material. One of the lowest average in Test cricket as a captain. Awful batting. We were lucky to win the World cup which we wont deserve. There is strong support from the Selection committe for Dhoni. We had humiliating defeats since 2011. It is high time Dhoni leaves the Test scene.

  • Rohit on December 7, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    "Maybe he had. In which case, the strategy worked. Compton did not attempt to upper-cut or reverse sweep Zaheer for six. So, in hindsight, it was clearly tactically sound. Although it did not immediately appear so at the time."

    You are really cheeky!

  • Ant on December 7, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    Jeet - Andy Z's article is as humourous and witty as ever. Sorry you're still smarting and pointing fingers instead of realises just how low India have sunk. All Andy Z is doing is pointing out how abject India have become especially in terms of their sloppy (embarrassing) fielding and how quickly they seem to give up when facing adversity. Where have India shown any sense of fight this series unless EVERYTHING is handed to them on as plate and all factors are in their favour? Test cricket is a "Test", it should draw out the highest standards from the best players in a country. It seems to draw out the worst in India's case!

  • Anonymous on December 7, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    When MSD became India's captain we had one of our best ever batting line ups with our greatest batsman Sachin at the peak of his form - the only reason why we became no1 in tests............ With our greats gone and our strike bowler out of sorts, Dhoni is being found out............... Unlike sourav(the best captain we had)dhoni has failed to nurture true talents especially bowlers who can take our team forward. He seems to have lost all his aggression both in batting and in the field, a trend that had propelled him from an o.k wicketkeeper to the captain of a world cup winning team... Its time he reinvents himself b'coz we desperately need that fiercely competitive young man back to get us back on track..............

  • Sunil on December 7, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    This Indian team & set up have given up - they seem to have stopped trying. That includes the team & the administrators. Success wont come till there is a hunger for it - a hunger that is more than that of your opposition.

  • SNT on December 7, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    @Jeet Roy, I can understand your frustration, as do a billion+ indians. However, have you watched this Indian team play? They won the WC, and have since been playing worse than the so-called "minnows" at the WC! This England team are not world class. They are admittedly very good. However, they had the confidence of a mashed potato before the tour of India. And now, we have out them on the same level as some of the greatest teams to have toured India. This is pure and utter rubbish by our team, and the sooner BCCI, Flethcher, Dhoni and the majority of this team are rid of, the better. Cricket in India prioritises the celebrity lifestyle first and foremost, corruption and greed just as highly, and has placed sporting values and commitment to supporters at the bottom of the importance list.

  • BALRAM on December 7, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    ipl have spoiled the sheer talent of test cricket in india in a large extent,now indians finds very difficult to play seameeas well as spinners.due to fatafat cricket we are not able to produce spinners of calibre.one thing more that replacement of great dravid,laxman and ganguly still not found,sachin struggling with form,so,it is misery for india and it seems that india will loose this series by 3-1.

  • Deeapk on December 7, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    Do you know why India is looking so pathetic? The guy who gave the side some respectability in 2011 is now comfortably ensconced in the commentary box. Dhoni was always a very defensive captain and with his real aggressors (the quiet aggressors, not the brash snarling loud mouthed ones) retired, his strategies and tactics (or rather the lack of them) are glaringly exposed...Maybe we are baying for the wrong guy's retirement...

  • ashish on December 7, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    In a country so largely populated,is this the best playing eleven we could come up with? in addition with an equally defiant and ineffective person to lead this bunch of 'paper tigers'?

    the quicker some serious soul searching is done by the powers concerned alongwith providing effective leadership (consult sourav ganguly) the better for the cricketing image of the country.

  • Naresh28 on December 7, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    The indian team is full of passengers. The over 30's should give way to youngsters. The U19 team winning the WC in Oz could play better.

  • GM MANIKANDAN on December 7, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    It is so pathetic on meek surrender to England batting. The batting/bowling and fielding is bizzare for India. the seniors in Dhoni, Zak, Sach, Sehvag and Gauti should step in to stop the humiliating defeat starring India.

  • Mel on December 7, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    As predicted India will beat England 4-0. India is right on track so far won the toss 3 times in a row 3-0 already.

  • Jeet Roy on December 7, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    Dear Andy,

    I read your article regularly and quite often your articles incorporate a quirky sense of humour along with reality to coincide with fantasy v reality and sometimes the obvious v the element of surprise in "test" cricket.

    However in this occasion it is completely biased towards England and your drawing of analysis are very much one sided.

    A reporter or a critic is supposed to be neutral in his/ her criticism on considering the overall analysis of a moment or an instance.

    In this occasion it seems quite disappointing that you are completely unabashed of the terminology called "TEST" Cricket, whoever coined the term "TEST" is a true testimony of how a cricket match is supposed to be played.

    However, on this occasion you seemed to have lost the plot.

    The terminology "Test" has been coined to indiscriminate the fact that whether it is played in home or away. It is the TRUE Testament of every 11 players of each team who participate in this battle.

    Thanks for your time.

  • Chris Silva on December 7, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    Serve us right. We like to dictate to others yet we cannot get our game right. What a disgrace they are walloping us in our own back yard. We do not have the right bowlers do we. My name sake from SL Aravinda De Silva said "this is the weakest Indian bowling attack I have known ever". Stop dictating to others get our act right.

  • Arv Singh on December 7, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Indian bowling has been top notch. The Indian commentators keep louding Ashwin's bowling and Dhoni keeps yelling, "Bowling ... Ashwin."

    BCCI officials are congratulating each other on fine bowling spell by Ashwin. Rahul Dravid is trying to explain Ashwin's mystery ball.

    But wait ... its all dream. Ashwin hasn't taken a wicket and Cook is about to score a double century.

  • ansari on December 7, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    aswin is having nothing in his bowling.his stats syas clearly.pls BCCi take him out and give chance to someone.dont go on this bowling combination itself.really its shame

  • Ajay as on December 7, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    Dhoni must have a very strong backing for being selected as captain after poor performance as captain on series of tests.he is the most dull and stubborn Indian captain, India had ever. He should immediately be replaced.

  • Bala_83 on December 7, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    completely agree with you.. It been difficult 2 watch India play test cricket under DHONI.. right from his 1st Test i have been stating that he is not good enough to be in the TEST XI let alone as captain..His attitude towards defeats is pathetic..It seems every time INDIA starts to bowl right from the 1st ball there are waiting for a declaration.. Horrible field placings leading to pathetic bowling..

  • Amjad on December 7, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Please look at Dhoni's batting average too..He is living in others shade..He has to give up test wicket keeper as we got talents like Dinesh Karthik,Naman Ojha and Wridhiman Saha..He is doing injustice to these talents by dragging like this.I dont know why is this Ashwin In Indian team?He is just a club bowler,he is too good for Chennai.Dhoni has to stop supporting his IPL talents and do support real talents how Sourav Ganguly did earlier to the guys like srinath,yuvi,shewag and even with Dhoni.

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  • Amjad on December 7, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    Please look at Dhoni's batting average too..He is living in others shade..He has to give up test wicket keeper as we got talents like Dinesh Karthik,Naman Ojha and Wridhiman Saha..He is doing injustice to these talents by dragging like this.I dont know why is this Ashwin In Indian team?He is just a club bowler,he is too good for Chennai.Dhoni has to stop supporting his IPL talents and do support real talents how Sourav Ganguly did earlier to the guys like srinath,yuvi,shewag and even with Dhoni.

  • Bala_83 on December 7, 2012, 6:00 GMT

    completely agree with you.. It been difficult 2 watch India play test cricket under DHONI.. right from his 1st Test i have been stating that he is not good enough to be in the TEST XI let alone as captain..His attitude towards defeats is pathetic..It seems every time INDIA starts to bowl right from the 1st ball there are waiting for a declaration.. Horrible field placings leading to pathetic bowling..

  • Ajay as on December 7, 2012, 6:03 GMT

    Dhoni must have a very strong backing for being selected as captain after poor performance as captain on series of tests.he is the most dull and stubborn Indian captain, India had ever. He should immediately be replaced.

  • ansari on December 7, 2012, 6:05 GMT

    aswin is having nothing in his bowling.his stats syas clearly.pls BCCi take him out and give chance to someone.dont go on this bowling combination itself.really its shame

  • Arv Singh on December 7, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Indian bowling has been top notch. The Indian commentators keep louding Ashwin's bowling and Dhoni keeps yelling, "Bowling ... Ashwin."

    BCCI officials are congratulating each other on fine bowling spell by Ashwin. Rahul Dravid is trying to explain Ashwin's mystery ball.

    But wait ... its all dream. Ashwin hasn't taken a wicket and Cook is about to score a double century.

  • Chris Silva on December 7, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    Serve us right. We like to dictate to others yet we cannot get our game right. What a disgrace they are walloping us in our own back yard. We do not have the right bowlers do we. My name sake from SL Aravinda De Silva said "this is the weakest Indian bowling attack I have known ever". Stop dictating to others get our act right.

  • Jeet Roy on December 7, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    Dear Andy,

    I read your article regularly and quite often your articles incorporate a quirky sense of humour along with reality to coincide with fantasy v reality and sometimes the obvious v the element of surprise in "test" cricket.

    However in this occasion it is completely biased towards England and your drawing of analysis are very much one sided.

    A reporter or a critic is supposed to be neutral in his/ her criticism on considering the overall analysis of a moment or an instance.

    In this occasion it seems quite disappointing that you are completely unabashed of the terminology called "TEST" Cricket, whoever coined the term "TEST" is a true testimony of how a cricket match is supposed to be played.

    However, on this occasion you seemed to have lost the plot.

    The terminology "Test" has been coined to indiscriminate the fact that whether it is played in home or away. It is the TRUE Testament of every 11 players of each team who participate in this battle.

    Thanks for your time.

  • Mel on December 7, 2012, 8:02 GMT

    As predicted India will beat England 4-0. India is right on track so far won the toss 3 times in a row 3-0 already.

  • GM MANIKANDAN on December 7, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    It is so pathetic on meek surrender to England batting. The batting/bowling and fielding is bizzare for India. the seniors in Dhoni, Zak, Sach, Sehvag and Gauti should step in to stop the humiliating defeat starring India.

  • Naresh28 on December 7, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    The indian team is full of passengers. The over 30's should give way to youngsters. The U19 team winning the WC in Oz could play better.