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January 8, 2007
The Indian slip-ups in the third and deciding Test against South Africa were so glaring that some explanations being sought are in fitness of things. Harbhajan Singh, never mind if he was bowling bad or trash, should have been played in this game. He has been a class performer for India and preferring Munaf Patel ahead of him in this game, given how it transpired for the lanky fast bowler, was certainly a wrong choice. Patel to my mind was not fit for this game, never mind if he ever was in the series. Looking at the way he went about his business, it surely appeared a wrong choice. It told on India's bowling in this game.
A look at Rahul Dravid's face when the winning run was scored showed how much it hurt. The expression in a strange way reflected the belief that has begun to take roots in this extremely watchable team.
The batting was the reason India finished on the runner-up's podium. They asked all the right questions with the ball and were extremely competitive throughout the series but the batting never really came together as a unit. Some knocks had the promise and Wasim Jaffer hit a hundred but really as a batting group, the Indians were found wanting. I guess the seniors ought to own up blame for the same.
Sachin Tendulkar, a magnificent player, never really fired but then one man really cannot run the show. To me the biggest disappointment was Virender Sehwag who appeared to have an attitude to hit a few boundaries but never the application to give his side a solid contribution with the bat. I have rarely seen a man as talented as Sehwag behave as poorly as he did in this series. His strokes in both the innings in the final Test was a huge let-down for his team. In the first, he swept against the spin of a left-arm spinner bowling in the rough and in the second he chased a hugely wide delivery with the innings only a few balls old.
I also cannot help but mention Dinesh Kaarthick as the surprise package of this Test. He appeared a very confident young man and he played and kept as well as Mahendra Singh Dhoni could have done. His two innings from this Test portrays him as a player who can mix with the best and who is not scared at all. He appears to be a young man who can be a face of the future for this Indian team.
A gutting loss to England, after leading the series 1-0, has thrown up some glaring inadequacies in the Indian team but there is little being said or done in terms of improvement
After 8-0, MS Dhoni could look forward to building a team from scratch; now, there is nothing left for him to contribute. Free him from the Test captaincy and he could yet give back in other ways
For all MS Dhoni's many trophies and accomplishments, Test cricket continues to resist his magic and indefinitely postpone his motorbike ride into the sunset
Sri Lanka's marks out of 10 following their 2-0 series win against Pakistan
Former players react to India's humiliating 1-3 series defeat in England
Why does the man who is possibly England's greatest fast bowler occasionally turn into Mr Hyde on the field?
With too great an emphasis on limited-overs cricket, MS Dhoni's side have a set of skills and a level of concentration that are not commensurate with the necessities of Tests