England v India, 3rd npower Test, Edgbaston, 2nd day August 11, 2011

Gambhir looks for repeat of Napier


India could not have sent a more honest man than Gautam Gambhir to face the media on a day like this. It was a day when Alastair Cook and the England middle order sent India on a leather hunt to all corners of Edgbaston; a day when the India bowlers walked around like parched and lost men in a desert; a day when India's fielders acted like they were tired commuters waiting in the bus queue. It was only apt then that Gambhir, one of the most proud and passionate of cricketers, walked up, sat down and admitted, chin-up, that India were under pressure and England had control of the match.

"I will not lie. We are under a lot of pressure. England hold the upper hand," Gambhir said. "We have just not been able to live up to expectations or the reputation we have. We have not played good, smart cricket and we take responsibility as a team."

On Wednesday, a huge spiral of smoke gushed out of one corner of Birmingham, evidence that the vandalism and riots that have crippled normal life in several parts of England were still affecting the city. In the evening, the police shut the main roads leading in and out of the city. Just as the common man made a tentative start to the day on Thursday, India started the second day at Edgbaston circumspect, were steadily getting back to breathing easy, but then suddenly lost patience to end the day on a sombre note.

Thursday morning was dark and overcast, and it was drizzling. India would have wished the clouds had not vanished. The game was delayed by just half an hour as the rain disappeared; for the rest of the day the English crowds celebrated the sunshine, and watched Alastair Cook and Co. dish out a sumptuous display of batting. Praveen Kumar showed a lot of heart to lead the Indian attack, but with Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth and Amit Mishra looking out of sorts, an emboldened England strengthened their grip on the series.

Adding to India's woes was some casual fielding, with four chances missed. Rahul Dravid managed to let two slip through his usually secure hands while Sreesanth let one go at point off Eoin Morgan. Alastair Cook was given a reprieve when on 165, by Sachin Tendulkar at mid-on. Tendulkar failed to notice that a loopy leading edge was heading towards him and let the ball drop just a few metres in front of him. The ground fielding was poor too, typified by Virender Sehwag's reluctance to bend and interrupt a couple of drives, which fetched England some easy runs.

"There are no excuses. It is a matter of concentration," Gambhir said, before defending his fielders. "All teams drop catches; these things happen in cricket but I can't tell you exactly why it is happening." Was this really the response you would expect from a member of the reigning No.1 Test team and the freshly-crowned World Champions?

Through the series, Indian supporters have been waiting for the resilience MS Dhoni's team has shown in the past to make an appearance. There was a glimpse of it on the first day at Trent Bridge when India seem to have cast aside the disappointment of Lord's to have England reeling at 124 for 8 at tea. But Stuart Broad added 97 runs with the last two wickets to pull England back into the match. India lost the momentum quickly and lost the match.

Gambhir went back to that first day in Trent Bridge as an example of how India have not taken their opportunities in this series. "We need to give credit to England. They are playing some good cricket and they have always taken the initiative in this series. We have not been able to take our chances. At Trent Bridge England were 124 for 8, but we did not take that chance."

Gambhir was not embarrassed to cite England's performance in this series as a good example to learn from. He said if he and the other India batsmen had managed to play with the same determination with which Cook and Strauss played on the second morning at Edgbaston, India would not have been in the difficult position they are now. "You need to work hard in the first session of the first day of a Test match. If we had survived that extra half an hour before lunch yesterday, things would have been different. Alastair Cook batted brilliantly, showing a lot of grit, determination and patience. This is what Test cricket is about: once you are in try to make as many runs as possible.

"England have a good attack but we have played good attacks before. South Africa had an equally good attack. The only difference there was we converted the starts into big hundreds. England have not let us off the hook and they have bowled well as a unit. That is what good teams do: try to put the opposition under pressure all the time. "

Despite their desperate position in the match, Gambhir said, India are not losing heart. He said they had shown character whenever they were in a critical situation in the last 24 months. India's batsmen have managed to come to the team's rescue on more than one occasion in the recent past, and they have done it by converting starts into big, purposeful centuries. One fine example was Gambhir's own marathon 137 that lasted seventeen minutes short of eleven hours and saved India from defeat in Napier, in hostile and swinging conditions two years ago.

India find themselves in need of another show of such resolve and Gambhir said he is ready to stand strong. "We need to play good cricket and show some grit and fight. We have done it in the past. Napier is something from where we can take a lot of inspiration; we had to bat for two-and-a-half days and we managed to do that."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vignesh on August 12, 2011, 22:05 GMT

    India needs one solid performance to come back on track, i hope we can draw the test match that will be more than enough to get back to the form

  • kan on August 12, 2011, 15:52 GMT

    we true indian cricket lovers should understand that IPL is the root cause for team Indias downfall, indian international players are playing IPL and CL with full intersity and skipping international tours to take rest or recover from injury, we as fans should all boycot watching IPL, otherwise soon india would drop in test ranking to may be 5 or 6

  • kan on August 12, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    it does not take rocket science to understand that over importance to IPL is causing team India's downfall, in a alrady packed international calendar BCCI is stuffing 7 weeks IPL and paying players huge lucretive offers to play in IPL, so Indian international players are hiding injury and playing IPL with full passion and then skipping following international tours to take rest or recover from injury. BCCI pls cut IPL to a 2 week event atleast. don't sacrifice quality for quantity

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    If India can bat for two & half days in Napier an save that particular Test they can do it NOW. !!! Show grit & determination & show CLASS. !!!

  • Jay on August 12, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    Attacking India take complete control - read more --> http://www.espncricinfo.com/emerging-players-tournament-2011/content/story/527197.html But, alas, by some talented indian players in a totally different game. Some solace for Indian fans on Indian cricket's future.

  • Mustafa on August 12, 2011, 13:26 GMT

    When the bowling standards are poor of oppositions, and you are playing on flat decks, every tom and harry score big hundreds. Just like Cook is doing, of course no fault of his own. India and Aus have done this for a long time. Last season Other then Trott, and an occassional few runs from colly or morgan, England top order was shambles.

    As soon as bolwing standards are raised all these so called great batsmen struggle, be it Aus against England, or India against England. Both England and Aus lost last season to Pakistan because of the raised bowling standard, even though Pak carried the weakest batting of all.

    Just good bowling wkts won't do, if that were the case India would have done the same to England, to win in these you don't need to score 300 runs, you need to get the opposition out for under 300 runs.

    If they get you out for 80, you get them out for 50, that is how good teams win, not by scoring 600 and the other team scores 400.

  • sanjay on August 12, 2011, 11:43 GMT

    Just surrender this series and come back home! Handover one day series as well! They need rest! Otherwise, england will drive india to the ground! There is no hope of recovery! Jesus christ!

  • sanjay on August 12, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    Ishant has one one type of bowl that comes inn and srishant has one that has gone out! They cant keep the batsman guessing! praveen terribly slow! And mishra looks like a club bowler!So much for kicking out bhajji! should have tried murali karthik or ashwin!

    Only rain can save a total humiliation! England wont look like getting out even for 1000! Any die hard indian fan hoping for a revival is totally delusional and at best blind patriot!

    Very very disappointing indeed for the so called no 1 team!

  • Dummy4 on August 12, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    come on mister Dhoni do some thing or u r just work hard in IPL where u score like a superman flying in the air u play like a real captain play do something and lets make other that they do something on ground not only on papers.i think IPL is just destroying the career of our current Indian players or may be it will destroy the career of new comers so stop this non sense mr.modi

  • Valavan on August 12, 2011, 10:35 GMT

    @Pankaj_INDIA, it was you who predicted this series will be walk in park for India. Mind you might eat the words once India will be incase washed aside by OZ in OZ. Its normal if you are 38+ you retire, Sunny Gavaskar was asked to retire while he was 35. You must build a team for future, rather dont be so confident these 3 will have form for next 2 years. Build a team for the future and accept the defeats during transition.

  • No featured comments at the moment.