England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day July 31, 2011

India's crown slipping

Another injured bowler was just one of MS Dhoni's problems as he watched the second Test slip away
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It was the day India feared could arrive from the moment Zaheer Khan limped out of the Lord's Test after three hours. Through a mixture of hard work, talent, patience, perseverance and helpful conditions, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Sreesanth did everything they could to keep the contest alive, but it was a bridge too far. As the Trent Bridge wicket calmed down on a sunny day, and Harbhajan Singh went off injured, England took control.

The pain inflicted was so harsh that at the end of the day the visitors walked back to the dressing room like prisoners trudging to their cells with their ankles shackled. The sessions became increasingly worse for India as the day wore on: 106, 124, and then a crushing 187 runs were scored in each of the blocks making it a huge 417 runs in the day. The ease with which the unbeaten pair of Matt Prior and Tim Bresnan tucked into the India bowlers exposed an exhausted attack that had tried everything and could only accept the superiority of England's batsmen.

Ian Bell might be remembered more for his silly walk-out on the stroke of tea, but he played an unforgettable innings. It was in the first session that he took the game away. Ruthlessness has been a characteristic of the greatest sides in the history of the game, be it with ball or bat, and so far in this series it has been England who have displayed more of it.

After their shocking collapse the previous evening, India needed to take a few quick wickets to stop England from building an advantage. They removed Andrew Strauss but that was it. Harbhajan pulled a stomach muscle early on and, after nine ineffective overs, wasn't available for most of the day. For the second time in two Tests, India were down a frontline bowler.

Even though the pitch wasn't taking any turn, and Harbhajan has been struggling in this series, he was needed to do a holding role ahead of the crucial second new ball. Instead, MS Dhoni was forced to resort to the part-time spin pair of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, who leaked easy runs.

It was a day when India's heavy workload in recent weeks - there was a three-Test series in the West Indies, in which all bar Sreesanth from this frontline attack played before coming here - started to catch up with them. This is the fifth Test that Praveen and Ishant are playing in six weeks; Praveen has bowled 221.3 overs while Ishant has delivered 223.5 in that period. Test cricket builds character and while both men have shown they can learn, their bodies can only handle so much. They are also missing their leader in Zaheer.

"For Ishant and Praveen, this is their fifth continuous Test back-to-back; they've been doing a lot of bowling for us," Rahul Dravid said. "They bowled over 60 overs at Lord's, 40 overs here again in three days. It's been hard, it's been tough on these guys and England bat deep.

"They've got some very good batsmen who can capitalise when your bowlers are tired. We wanted breakthroughs with the new ball and that happened. We got three wickets quickly but then the bowlers got tired, they'd bowled so many overs. England batted well and cashed in, so that was always going to put us under pressure once the bowlers got through that initial spell."

India are still the world's No. 1 Test side according to the ICC rankings but unless they dig deep into their reserves over the next two days, they are unlikely to be there much longer.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jaggadaaku on August 3, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    The following Indian cricketers should retire or throw them out immediately as follow: Sachin Tendulkar: Only plays well when there is no pressure. Never plays well in 4th innings. Still enjoys breaking millions of fans hearts throwing his wicket in crunch time. MS Dhoni: Never plays well (Not against even Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or W. Indies) Rarely gets passed 15 runs mark. Keeping is also below average. Try him for short format only. Grown-up stomach discourage him to dive. Suresh Raina: Good for only IPL and T20 sometimes. Harbhajsingh: Rarely gets wickets, gets only 1 wicket sometimes. Took 10 for exact 3 years ago, and since then, took 5 for only 3 times. A. mukund: Only good for Ranji Trophy where only unprofessional cricketers are playing. Senior cricketers of the current team stop playing there from many years. (Gauti should be only selected when his super home-buddy Sehwag is the other opener because he misses him a lot and throws his wicket when Veeru is not there)

  • Jaggadaaku on August 2, 2011, 22:26 GMT

    The following Indian cricketers should retire or throw them out right a way as follow: Sachin Tendulkar: Only plays well when there is no pressure. Never plays well in 4th innings. MS Dhoni: Never plays well (Not against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or W. Indies) Rarely gets passed 15 runs mark. Keeping is also below average. Try him for short format only. Suresh Raina: Good for only IPL and T20 sometimes. Harbhajsingh: Rarely gets wickets, gets only 1 wicket sometimes. Took 10 for exact 3 years ago, and since then, took 5 for only 3 times. A. mukund: Only good for Ranji Trophy where only unprofessional cricketers are playing. Senior cricketers of the current team stop playing there from many years. (Gauti should be only selected when his super home-buddy Sehwag is the other opener because he misses him a lot and throws his wicket when Veeru is not there)

  • dummy4fb on August 2, 2011, 21:04 GMT

    fletcher is bad luck greg chappel oppoint Gnaguly as coach please

  • Jaggadaaku on August 2, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    The following Indian cricketers should retire or throw them out right a way as follow: Sachin Tendulkar: Only plays well when there is no pressure. Never plays well in 4th innings. MS Dhoni: Never plays well (Not against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe or W. Indies) Rarely gets passed 15 runs mark. Keeping is also below average. Try him for short format only. Suresh Raina: Good for only IPL and T20 sometimes. Harbhajsingh: Rarely gets wickets, gets only 1 wicket sometimes. Took 10 for exact 3 years ago, and since then, took 5 for only 3 times. A. mukund: Only good for Ranji Trophy where only unprofessional cricketers are playing. Senior cricketers of the current team stop playing there from many years. (Gauti should be only selected when his super home-buddy Sehwag is the other opener because he misses him a lot and throws his wicket when Veeru is not there)

  • dummy4fb on August 2, 2011, 1:04 GMT

    It's kind-of strange that everyone who had to prove themselves to stay in the side put on shows when they needed to : Broad, Bell, Yuvraj, Bresnan. Do the others (except Dravid) really need that harsh of a motivation?

  • Snesible on August 1, 2011, 17:33 GMT

    Common guys, accept the fact that this Indian team is not a great side like Australia or West Indies or even SA of the 90's where they won in India consistently. Even ganguly has gone on record saying that Dhoni's record is skewed because under him India Played most of the test matches in Sub Contintent( read srilanka, India, bangladesh) guys drawing a series in South Africa or winning 1-0 against a third rate west indies side does not make any team great. perhaps India should arrange more games against Srilanka so they can remain number 1, pathetic state of the game

  • dummy4fb on August 1, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    @zico123 "it is unfair to judge a depleted Indian side against a full strength England side" That's a full strength England side with Tremlett, Trott and Swann all injured. If you want to imagine how England would cope with a pace bowler getting injured during a game then think back to the Rose bowl against Sri Lanka where Anderson could not bowl in the second innings and we bowled them out for 82!

  • dummy4fb on August 1, 2011, 16:38 GMT

    zico123. It might have been a little different with the addition of Sehwag, Zaheer and Gambhir. Not sure the laws allow you to use 14 players, but you might have been able to reach 300 at least once :)

  • dsig3 on August 1, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    India is getting absolutely slaughtered! You guys trying to come up with excuses are disgracing yourself. Its men against boys.....actually its men against old men in England.

  • dummy4fb on August 1, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    @ zico123: look mate while it is a tragedy that India are missing their leading bowler and 2 of their frontline batsmen, it would be really prudent to come to terms with the ground truth: England is far better at the moment. England has issues with injuries as well: Jonathan Trott ruled out with shoulder injury, Graeme Swann rendered impotent with injury to left wrist, and Chris Tremlett out with injuries. It is all about the replacement players raising their hands and staking a claim for the spots in the team. Look at Tim Bresnan, coming in for Tremlett and promptly bagging a five for in the 2nd innings. The fact that India's replacement players are failing miserably only adds substance to the notion that England has a far superior bench strength

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