England v India, 4th Investec Test, Old Trafford August 6, 2014

Unfavourable verdict can rejuvenate India

India may feel wronged by the Anderson-Jadeja verdict, but it is time to put the issue behind them and rally forward for the remaining two Tests

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Dhoni: I don't get hangovers

When the hearing in the Grand Harbour hotel in Southampton finished, you could sense that the spirit had left the Indian team.

Not all of them were present in Southampton- only MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir, Duncan Fletcher and physiotherapist Evan Speechly were there. They were all whisked away through the back of their hotel as soon as the verdict had been announced to them. We did not know yet what the verdict was, but there was a quiet around them.

India believed the England players had lied, and that James Anderson got away with it. India believed the incessant abuse had crossed all the limits when Jadeja was pushed. They brought it to the authority's notice, and yet they could not do anything about it because there was no evidence.

They felt wronged. Helpless. No matter how much you might try to move on from this, it will remain a factor when India play England in the fourth Test of the series, at Old Trafford.

Recent history suggests India channel this kind of righteous indignation well. After the fractious and infamous Sydney Test of 2007-08, they came back to win in Perth. One week they could not bat out 72 overs to save a Test, another week they put in a determined stellar performance to outplay Australia at the WACA Ground.

At a press conference last year, just before coming to England for Champions Trophy, all sorts of questions were being asked of India. It was frustrating for the public to not get any answers or reassurances from the team as Dhoni went away without taking even a single question about the spot-fixing case.

The players felt equally indignant - rightly or wrongly - that they were being interrogated as if they had done something wrong. There was similar quiet around the players when India left for England, but when they took the field, they were a galvanised unit.

Earlier this year, just before the World Twenty20, another controversy had broken out. The spot-fixing matter had reached the Supreme Court, one of the lawyers there had accused Dhoni of lying under oath during the investigation, and Dhoni's employer N Srinivasan was being asked to leave once again. Similar silence and steel followed.

Once again, India feel the whole world is against them. That might not be the case - that was not the case in the three aforementioned instances - but India have shown they are quick to feel so, and that it galvanises them.

Which is why it was surprising that they called Ian Bell back at Trent Bridge during their last tour to England. India had done nothing wrong then: they had legitimately run Bell out, and when they were booed by the crowd for having done that, that might have given India a last spark when their flame was dying. India did not take it, and proceeded to meekly lose the remaining matches.

This controversy is sure to bring the team closer, to make them more determined, but Test matches are not won on determination alone. You have to take 20 wickets. India will need all the motivation from indignation they can muster to come close to doing that.

In Ishant Sharma's absence and with Mohammed Shami's poor form, India went in to the Southampton Test with a toothless attack. It was not a green pitch where you just put the ball up and it seams; it required the bowlers to hit the deck hard, and India do not believe in those kind of bowlers. Ishant is the only exception to that rule, but he will not be available here, and this pitch is not green either.

Recent history suggests India channel this kind of righteous indignation well. After the fractious and infamous Sydney Test of 2007-08, they came back to win in Perth

India's best bet here will be to win the toss and bat first. Once the opposition gets off to a half-decent start, as England did in Southampton, India get deflated faster than any other major side in the world, and start thinking of the draw.

Dhoni plays a big part in this attitude; he did so by bowling Jadeja throughout the middle session of the first day, at times with a seven-two leg-side field. You can argue his lean bowling sources do not allow him to do much more, but if you make milking runs easy for the opposition so early in the match, your batsmen come under extreme pressure after having fielded for close to two days.

The batsmen have not really kicked on at any rate, which is a little strange because with the exception of Shikhar Dhawan, they have not been struggling overtly. A small mistake here, a bad habit there, and Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli do not have the numbers India expected of them.

Two Tests to go, and with India's bowlers looking exhausted in Southampton, Ishant not available for this match, and with that demoralising verdict handed to them, it would be easy to forget the series is still 1-1.

India theoretically have a good chance of doing something special. Given their resources now, though, they will need liberal doses of that invisible force that they somehow seem to summon when they feel the whole world is against them.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sunil on August 7, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    Well, in 2008 we had an inspiring captain and a bunch of quality players. I am not sure if we have them now. We have a captain who is struggling to score on seaming wickets and has always this fascination towards the "one day utility players".....

  • ian on August 7, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    @CptMeanster: I'd be disappointed if you didn't (disagree with me)! First, it's quite obvious to me that there are a good many Indian supporters who are extremely knowledgeable and often make interesting contributions to threads such as this & who hold TC in the same high regard as I do. Indeed, some are here, in this very place! It is, I strongly suspect, a question of generational preference. The young in India, especially the under30s, newly educated, newly wealthy, highly susceptible to the unremitting (also unregulated, as far as I know) enticements of the advertising industry, are captured by the glitter & glare of the cool IPL. Now, there is no doubt that the IPL is a vehicle that carries an assortment of desirable/must-have ad. flauntings. Ad. men know what they're doing; they don't waste money. This, in turn, captures the young cricket fan and binds him to the IPL brand: symbiosis inside a fence. Maturity is all. Judgement comes with age - also a letting go of glitz. BW.

  • k m on August 7, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    looks S. Monga was in positive mood when he wrote this. Hope MSD gets some of it.

    For India Rohit is a wasted gold, Dhawan need to get his technique correct against moving ball. R.Jadeja does not know what needs to be done, attack or defense both with bat and ball. Ashwin, Gambir, & Eswar is the solution for this ... lets wait and see...

  • RAJARAMAN on August 7, 2014, 8:32 GMT

    Test cricket is still loved by people who have played cricket (at any level) because they can understand the value of garnering runs ... T20 is definitely for people who like to "only watch" cricket where it is more entertainment ... for the former, T20 is a bonus and for the latter, test cricket does not exist

  • Paul on August 7, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    England should play Finn instead of Jordan and get a spinner to replace Woakes and see India go down by an Innngs.

  • thomas on August 7, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster: Here we go again! On with your favorite past time: bashing test cricket. Does 20/20 leave you with too much time on your hands? When living in Canada a few years back I knew a few Indian cricket fans - I played 20/20 with them. Although they loved playing 20/20, they stated clearly that to them test cricket was the undisputed king of the sport. Of course, they may on have been representative of the average Indian cricket fan, but I also see a lot of (positive) passionate comments on test cricket on these pages made by Indian supporters. Just accept that some of us appreciate the twists and turns of the longer version of the game, just like some of us appreciate longer (> 90min) movies with a plot that's not obvious and fixed from the second scene. Some of us even like long, complex books (such as Lord of the Rings, and War and Peace) and classical music symphonies. In fact, some of us have an attention span that's longer than that of the average kitten.

  • ESPN on August 7, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    @Cpt.meanst: Indians do love Test cricket. I'm an Indian, and this is the only format which I follow passionately. And so does many of my friends. The very young may not understand the nuances, but it is still the most respected format. By passing comments that Indians don't like Test cricket, you're creating a perception that Indians complain of 'sour grapes'!!!

  • Daison on August 7, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    If England will play Finn, India will target him. That will mean England will be one bowler short. They have kept Kohli silent for three games and this is the game they are gonna pay for it. Put all your money for a Kohli double hundred in this game folks. May be you see no boundaries from Kohli on the offside until he reach tripple figures.

  • Muthuvel on August 7, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    What was really unfavorable was the lack of DRS blame it on BCCI. Bell and Balance out at 0 and 15 odd went on the make big centuries, poor game for umpires. They helped and also India's poor slip helped England to 500 +, no chance of that happening again.

  • Muthuvel on August 7, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    alok21oct, Mohit Sharma plays for CSK, Rohit,Dhawan dont what has CSK got to do with this at all, blind dislike equals poor opinions.

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