India in England 2014 August 10, 2014

Wet Sunday mocks Indian capitulation

It rained all day in Manchester on what would have been the fourth day of the fourth Test, had India not thrown away their wickets on Saturday
208

India's players better not have withdrawn the curtains in their hotel rooms on Sunday. For they will have seen rain that began early in the morning and refused to relent through the day. It did stop around 2pm, only to resume after a brief sunny spell. It wasn't the lashing apocalyptic rain that you associate with hurricanes, but persistent and steady downpour with cold breeze. When it finally seemed to have stopped by 4pm, down it came 20 minutes later, and stayed on and off since then.

On the second day of the Test, it had rained for much less time. It began to fall at around 2pm, and it was enough to wash out the rest of the day's play. Given the drainage problems the ground encountered after that sharp shower, it is highly unlikely there would have been any play on Sunday. There is an option of adding an extra hour at the end of the day's play, but for that play needs to start by 6pm.

This, of course, would have been the fourth day of the fourth Test. A Test on the third day of which India lost nine wickets in under one session. Had they batted more doggedly - everybody knew the forecast for day four - they could have kept the game alive. A whole day is lost, England get a little impatient, Stuart Broad is injured, and you never know what is liable to happen. There is more rain forecast for Monday. With the amount of rain Old Trafford has taken, who knows, even the fifth day might not have begun on time.

In an ideal world the coach Duncan Fletcher would drag the players by their coattails and take them to Old Trafford and show them what might have been. That would be too uncool, though. This team, we are told, is too cool for a rocket. Processes are important, not results. They can't afford to be seen as desperate. They live for the moment, they say; not the future, not the past. Test cricket is different. You have to plan ahead, and think of all sorts of permutations and combinations.

Virat Kohli nearly holed out to long leg sweeping Moeen Ali before he eventually fell to a meek push outside off. Ajinkya Rahane drove hard at Moeen and offered a simple return catch. MS Dhoni stepped out and was caught at midwicket. Bhuvneshwar Kumar ran himself out. This was not a team that was giving the outside chance an outside chance. Dhoni later said something to effect of, what is the difference how many days it takes you to lose; a loss is a loss.

When asked if any instructions were sent out to the batsmen keeping in mind the forecast, Dhoni said: "We are talking about a set of batsmen well experienced, not necessarily in Test cricket, but they have been part of the side enough to know what has to be done in each situation. We also tell them to break each session into small sessions of half an hour, and set small targets for them to achieve. That helps you to achieve what you want to, and as you said, bat 60 overs.

"If you look at it, 60 overs is a big target, and what you need to do is to break into four or five overs and set a target to achieve. That's the kind of spell bowlers go with - five or six overs. If you want to look at the positive, then all the batsmen have passed the tough passage when two bowlers were bowling well and then they have got out. Most of them have scored 20 to 30 runs before getting out. So the most important part is to convert those starts into big scores."

Make what you will of this.

This is similar to the time in Australia in 2011-12, when with one match to go in the triangular ODI series India had an outside chance of making it to the final. Journalists knew it, fans knew it, commentators knew it, but despite carrying a plethora of support staff, the Indian team didn't know it. Dhoni was informed of that outside chance at a press conference.

Maybe the lack of desperation, of fighting until you have been beaten officially, is a cultural issue. Even before Dhoni arrived, India showed similar lack of awareness in the West Indies in 2002, incidentally the last time India played five Tests in a series. There too, India had taken a 1-0 lead, squandered it, but on the final day of the series, Zaheer Khan slogged wildly, became the last man out and handed away the series to West Indies. Even before Zaheer reached the dressing room, it began to pour - as was expected. The presentation had to be held indoors, and it rained for two more days.

This is not to say India would have drawn this Test, but this is not about the end result, although chances of drawing this had India not lost on Saturday were greater than getting wickets by asking Ravindra Jadeja to bowl darts into the pads with a 7-2 leg-side field. This is about the process through which this defeat arrived. India should know, they care more for it than the results.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on August 14, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    Things india need to change for 5th test: 1)We need 4 proper bowlers.4 pacers-Bhuvi,Aaron,Shami,ishwar/ishant.1 spinner-Ashwin.He scores above 40 in all matches.Right now we are playing 3 pacers.Pankaj can't pick a wicket.Hence only 2 bowlers are left to take 20 wickets. 2)So,batsmen are Vijay,pujara,Rahane,Kohli,Rohit/naman.If Rohit plays,he gets practice before odi's.If naman and Ishwar are played,we atleast get to test them. 3)Majority of catches are falling short.Bring the slips and short legs closer.Dhoni must dive for catches. 4)Don't poke at balls outside off. 5)Bowlers better bowl some yorkers to remove the tail. After this series 1)People wanting binny are idiots.Drop Stuart Binny from team forever and roger Binny from selection panel.He is wasting 1 space and his father will always pick him.We don't need 120kmph trundlers. 2)Pick Varun,Umesh and bhuvi as 3 pacers for australia series.Shami/Ishant/Ishwar could be 4th bowler. 3)pick Jadeja/Ashwin as batsmen who can bowl

  • espncricinfomobile on August 13, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    Hoping for another big lose...

  • tcarlos on August 13, 2014, 5:24 GMT

    indian cricket is a hype as their spectators at the moment... u should have a good domestic set to perform and look at india.. Can cash cow ipl deliver good cricketers. sorry fellas. dont create hype crics like kohli and ashwin... do they deliver? only at the start. but they had a good bunch earlier. look at azharuddin, sidhu and even before srikkanth and all.

  • dummy4fb on August 12, 2014, 19:55 GMT

    Best chance for India - Gambhir, Vijay, Ashwin, Pujara / Sharma, Rahane, Ojha, Dhoni, Bhuvi, Ishant, Pankaj, Varun. Kohli - miserably out of form needs a break, there's not much to choose between Pujara & Sharma (based on performance this series). Pankaj might have nothing to write home about in terms of wickets so far, but that's due to Jadeja's incompetence. Jadeja should therefore make way for Ishant. Bhuvi & Ashwin have outscored the batsmen, so 1 batsman less will not matter too much. Bhuvi, Ishant, Pankaj & Varun means Dhoni will have at least 1 fresh quick to turn to almost all day, also with Ashwin available as a 5th regular bowler, these guys can afford to go flat out, Between Ashwin, Ojha & Dhoni they will have 2 decent slip catchers for support.

  • dummy4fb on August 12, 2014, 13:38 GMT

    Sunday's rain wouldn't have made much of a difference. Instead of losing on 3rd day, they might have lost on the 5th day. Yes, they could have managed to get some more batting practice, though. Either way, whatever performance we saw from India in this particular test was pathetic

  • dummy4fb on August 12, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    For heaven's sake don't criticize this young Indian team so much. They have done so well for a rookie team, a majority of whose members are touring England for a test series for the first time. They were in a position of strength in the first test and won the second. Remember, what happened not so long ago in 2011 with experienced veterans, Sehwag, RD, SRT, VVS, Gambhir, Zaheer.etc. Except for RD no one else could do anything. At least these boys have done much much better than them, and that too without half of the top order contributing!!!

  • HiyerNHiyer on August 12, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    @Lalithkuruwitha find your comment on "India should be happy that Pak lost" ridiculous. Only blokesl with Crab Mentalities would think like that and think that reflects in your thought process. You definitely are NOT an INDIAN..

    My view, this team is a better Limited overs team than a Test team as Ganguly aptly put it. Yes there is a need for a shakeup. I think India could have done better through some common sense cricket and application which seems to be lacking.

    I wonder what the Coach and Support staff are doing. But yes basic mistakes still persist. Dhoni needs to reflect on his Test captaincy

  • LALITHKURUWITA on August 12, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    India should be happy as Paks lost in the parallel match.

  • baghels.a on August 12, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    Too many Indian fans are blaming these defeats on some structural and systemic deficiencies and blaming IPL,overdose of 50 cricket, as i had commented earlier people with inherent biases and agendas are bringing IPL and 50 overs into it , then how do you explain the Lord's win ?? encouraging performances in SA and NZ ?? India has been losing in overseas conditions long before IPL came in.I saw similar discourse when Australia was beaten by England last summer , Aussie posters were saying IPL,BBL,too much 50 overs cricket has destroyed the technique of young Aussie batters and Shield cricket was being undermined but i guess after Aus thrashed Eng 5-0 in the latest Ashes all that has changed.Playing Country cricket might help medium pacers build stamina like Zaheer Khan and spinners to be patient but it does not help or transform a batsman,out of all English players only Sam Robson plays regularly at County level and he looks the worst English player out there in terms of technique.

  • dummy4fb on August 12, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    A weather update from (near) Old Trafford. I reckon they would have lost all Sunday to rain. There might have been some play on Monday morning, but most of the rest would have been lost to showers. India could (and probably should) have drawn this test with a better second innings batting performance.

  • No featured comments at the moment.