India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 2nd day

India find ways to fine-tune sloppiness

Problems with India's fielding is not a new theme, but their performance as Alastair Cook piled on the runs again brought to the fore the issue of an ageing side

Sidharth Monga

December 6, 2012

Comments: 82 | Text size: A | A

Zaheer Khan walked off the field with slight discomfort, Mumbai v Railways, Group A, Ranji Trophy, Mumbai, 3rd day, November 4, 2012
Zaheer Khan can still bowl, but his fielding is another matter © Fotocorp
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Being good at something can be boring. You have to keep finding new ways of being good at it. It is no news that India are one of the best when it comes to the art of waiting for a declaration, but on Thursday they provided finer touches to it, like any self-respecting perfectionist would.

First they tried a new slip fielder, Cheteshwar Pujara, with shin pads and chest guard on, thus limiting his quick movement, and he succeeded in dropping one of the greediest batsmen going around, who still possibly gets nightmares about missing a triple-century by six runs when this attack last put it on a platter. In single-saving positions, India fielded some of their slowest men, thus, deceitfully, making sure that they didn't in fact save those singles.

At the end of the day, no one in the team fancied explaining to the fans why Virender Sehwag fields at slip only for spinners and not fast bowlers, why some of the bowlers don't improve their fielding, why the slower men were in single-saving positions, why two fielders didn't chase after a ball like England did when running Sehwag out, and why the oldest man on the field was still in running for being the best fielder in the side.

To do the dirty job, to defend the indefensibles, the management sent out the fielding coach, Trevor Penney, for the press conference.

Why was Sehwag not fielding at slip when the catch was dropped? "We have got a lot of different slip fielders. He has been fielding there. Pujara has been practising a lot there too."

It's not about Pujara's drop, or how many runs the reprieved batsman went on to score. Even the best slip fielders drop catches, and much simpler ones that that. It was the attention to detail that was missing. The man wore all the protective equipment of a short leg. India have lost two good slip catchers recently, and it is not an area to be taken for granted. "He got both hands to it. He just dropped the catch," was Penney's only response.

In the next over, when Pujara went back to short leg for Ishant Sharma, India pulled off another surprise by pushing R Ashwin into the slip cordon. Penney's response to that was confused too. "Ashwin doesn't normally go in," he said. "Can't comment on that. As I said, Pujara and Viru practise a lot in the slips, and Virat as well. We try and practise with everybody." A moment later he corrected himself: "Not everybody but quite a few people."

Asked about the easy singles generously conceded by mid-off and mid-on, Penney suggested the right men were not placed there. "Some of the guys, maybe we didn't get our best fielders in those positions," he said. "It is quite crucial. [Off the] spinners, hitting and running, it is quite hard to stop. Fielding in general is quite difficult on that outfield. It is very very fast. Sometimes a bit wobbly. You have to take your chances, we didn't take ours."

So being the fielding coach, and given all the limitations of looking after arguably the worst fielding side in Test cricket, did Penney try to tell Dhoni to get the placements right? Penney's response stopped short of stating helplessness. "It's difficult sometimes with bowlers," he said. "Some of our fielders can't field everywhere. So they have got to go into positions like that. It's a pretty difficult situation sometimes…

"Sometimes in Test cricket you get to a position where people you'd rather have at, say, point but you have them catching because some of the bowlers might be tiring."

When Penney began to speak of tiring bowlers, questions naturally veered towards Zaheer Khan, whose fielding - as with the immense value of his bowling over four years preceding the great slide that began in 2011 - needs no introduction. A particular instance when he made no attempt to back a throw up, conceding an overthrow, was brought up.

"He is still fielding really well," said Penney. "He is bowling and he is back to his best. He is at full fitness. Some bowlers are not as good as a general fielder, say Virat." But fitness doesn't have much to do with wanting to back a throw up pretty early in the piece. To which Penney said, "In that particular instance, maybe he did that," Penney said. "In general he doesn't do that. Guys are practising well, and…"

And once again Penney couldn't complete his thought. Questioning then moved on from the specific instance to Zaheer's failure to take starts - walking in with the bowler - on 90% of the times. "He has got his own methods," Penney said, which drew uproarious laughter. "He is bowling a lot, and he has played a lot of cricket."

Penney then grew serious in defence of the strike bowler. "He is doing well," he said. "I don't want to comment on what he is doing. He bowls a lot. He is a super hero for Indian cricket. I don't want to start picking on his fielding. He does a good job in general."

The fact remains that since Kapil Dev's retirement, India have had only one outstanding fast-bowler-outfielder, Ajit Agarkar. And it was sensible to choose Zaheer's wizardry over some fast bowler who was merely a good fielder. The super hero, though, has misplaced his cape, and is keeping his underwear firmly inside his pants. He has taken 14 wickets in 12 innings this year, striking every 99 balls for 49.50 runs. Last year he played only three Tests because of fitness issues. And he won't even quit one format of the game so he can be fresh and ready for the other. And still, in Umesh Yadav's absence, Zaheer remains India's best chance of getting a wicket.

You can't blame Penney, though. He can't come out and blame the players. Nor can he turn poor fielders into world-class ones. Nor can he undo the whole situation of players not fielding in places they are best suited to - for whatever reasons. The best he can do is to get the BCCI to release all the reserves for Ranji games so that he can himself come on the field as a substitute, reprising one of Duncan Fletcher's best moves as an international coach. Just ask Ricky Ponting, it can be mighty effective.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

I agree 100% with Mr.Monga. It is impossible to understand the psyche of the Indian Captain or the team. India were 89 for no wicket and the wicket was playing well, the bowling was rubbish short pitched balls rank full tosses or wide outside off stump balls which accounted for wickets. Ashwin proved to everyone beyond reasonable doubt that if any one batted sensibly they could score a century! India failed miserably in all aspects of the game except we now have a good wagging tail who can score 100. Ashwin is now a contender for the best average in the series and soon will be the best all rounder. If India has to prove they must win the 4th test and Dhoni has to prove that his cricket mind is still sharp and hungry and not to lose a home series. Jay

Posted by SamRoy on (December 8, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla don't have it. Mishra bowls one boundary an over and Chawla bowls two boundary balls an over. I had some hope Rahul Sharma but he must leave the Punjab Ranji Team as Mohali pitch never really helps spinners to grow. The best option for India currently is to play Ashwin at 6 and Ojha and Harmeet Singh.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 13:41 GMT)

My team.....from this ten probables Batting: Gambhir, Rahane,Shewagh, Pujara ,Kohli ,Tiwary ,Dhawan , Badrinath, M Vijay , A Rayadu.

Bowling: U Yadav, Sreesanth(only for tests), Pankaj Singh, P Awana, A Dindda ,P Ojha, Ashwin, P Chawla, V Aroon , I Abdulla

W Keeper:D Karthik/P Patel

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 11:07 GMT)

Despite being an Indian, I am watching Bangladesh-WI ODI with my Bangladeshi roommate, and am truly enjoying every bit of it.

Posted by golgo_85 on (December 7, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

And can someone please tell me why someone like Rahane is still not a regular feature? I'm not from Asia, but am a cricket fan, plain and simple. Years will go by whilst some talented youngster could've been groomed instead of holding onto nostalgia. It just annoys me how guys like Peter Forrest, Usman Khwaja, Rahane, Amit Mishra, Hammad Azam, James Taylor are unfairly treated. South Africa have definitely got the edge when it comes to have balanced XIs for individual matches including their rotation policy, they definitely have the strongest bench at the moment.

Posted by Vivek.Bhandari on (December 7, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

And so, Sid Monga smartly brings Gary Pratt onto this article; you've brilliantly put the not so obvious points with the usual ones; yes, in this sentence you've summed up Indians lethargy in one go "It is no news that India are one of the best when it comes to the art of waiting for a declaration"

Posted by VamseeK on (December 7, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

From the Third Test Indian Team Career Batting Average = 36.25 English Team Career Batting Average = 31.06 Indian Team Career Top 4 Bowlers Average = 33.54 English Team Career Top 4 Bowlers Average = 30.18

36.25-31.06+30.18-33.54= +1.83

On Paper we are the better team, plus we have home advantage, we should be winning this test series. Clearly one is playing below reputation and the other above reputation. I will be shy to say that the English are better than us but clearly the English have been doing better in this Test Series.

Posted by AvidFanDownUnder on (December 7, 2012, 10:04 GMT)

Brilliant article - asks all the sensible questions but put forward in a very humorous manner. Thanks for writing such a great article.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 9:29 GMT)

But why isn't anyone talking about captaincy issues? Have we hired coaches to blame them on the rainy days?

Posted by analyseabhishek on (December 7, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

Fletcher needs to bring out the Greg Chappell in himself. He will soon lose his job but hopefully, the hurt ego of the complacent, aging players will ensure the team does well (or are they too old to be of any good now?)

Posted by Naresh28 on (December 7, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

@SAperspective - quite right about the aging INDIAN TEAM. Unfit and LAZY. Giving COOK good batting practice. Pitches like this encourage laziness How can the INDIAN TEAM be fit when the average age is around 34? Time BCCI changes this policy - the U19 won the worldcup in OZ.

Posted by cricket_ftw on (December 7, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Yuvi and MSD need to move out of the team asap. They are literally killing the middle order totally. This Indian team is without a middle order at all. The team is almost totally dependent on the openers and even they seem to disappoint all the time. Its time India moves to a new wicket keeper batsmen for tests. Bring in Badri or Rahane and D. Karthik instead of Yuvi & MSD. As far as the bowlers are concerned we are clueless whom to bring in and whom to move out. Not much options available there at least for another 2 or 3 yrs.

Posted by srnk on (December 7, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

I agree with you Siddharth. The reason might be everyone including the BCCI have got their share for not performing or every player knows how to safeguard their place performing once in a while as is common with our politicians.

Posted by sony_sr on (December 7, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

I can't stop laughing reading the replies of penney. This sums up the current state of our test team.

Posted by baranasai on (December 7, 2012, 7:23 GMT)

I think England will score 700 plus and defeat India by Innings and #00 runs. I expect two other batsmen to score centuries including their Wicket keepper and Peterson . Indians wil be out foe less than 200 again looking for all sorts of excuses .LET us use our new players and get such defetras so that they will learn from this so that this will be a useful lesson for their future.what is the point in givig chance to Players like Zac who can neithernget wickets and score runs as well .infact except 23 players rest are below par -they will play well only if a rotaion policy is in place so that they are not complacent-they will do try a bit more

Posted by MasterClass on (December 7, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

OK, I think we can now say it, and SHOULD say it. Indian cricket is an embarrassment! Cricket was one area where Indians could take some pride...well so much for that! I guess I'm thankful I live in the US and not in the UK or some other cricket playing country, so going to the office no one knows the pathetic state of Indian cricket!

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 6:54 GMT)

Too much money,adulation media hype and a benevolent Board who tie down the selectors are all contributing to the current attitude of the Indian players which in turn affecs their performance Sehwag's lack of effort to dive and prevent the run out is an eminent illustration of what has crept into this side The best coaches in the world cant change the situation What can change is the Board's attitude and a free hand given to the selectors to demonstrate to each player that he is not a given indispensable The rest can follow

Posted by IndiaNumeroUno on (December 7, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

We need to get rid of all these foreign coaches and put in people who can communicate well with the Indian team in Indian languages. Not all foreign coaches are lucky like Kirsten. Since Fletcher has come in its all been downhill for India!

Posted by Biggus on (December 7, 2012, 6:49 GMT)

Indians have always been lazy fielders. Like schoolboy cricketers everybody wants to bat, some are prepared to bowl, and no-one wants to field anywhere but the slip cordon. Attention to general fitness has again always been poor.

Posted by SAperspective on (December 7, 2012, 6:11 GMT)

lets admit this i an old problem. the lazyness of Indian team. super heroes pumped up by the media. this is what cowardice gets, focusing on lazy spin, playing on dead pitches. having a lazy players- not fit - ive seen sehwag yawn at slip and the get hit on the foot. they should have fitness tests before selection for the national team. ie.

sprints, diving tests, fielding then you might see some change

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (December 7, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Nice analytical article, seen variations of this for the last 20 years of my watching cricket, but this one was more accurate and targeted specifics. ZAK is/always was a pathetic outfielder/infielder/anywhere fielder, now that his bowling brilliance has lost its zip-he is a super liability. Not to speak of the other slouches in our team, generally every team counts on its fingers of one hand-its worst fielders, for India that applies to our best/good fielders. Unless we bring in bouncy wickets-we cannot breed good slip fielders - leave alone the topic of fast bowlers-batsmen getting practice on bouncy wickets. All in all, i expect England to wallop us-something that was coming and richly deserved as most of our fans/bloggers, our esteemed BCCI grew too arrogant with the undeserved No1 ranking of 2008-2010-this is a wakeup call, and hopfully the bcci/someone somewhere takes note....peace to all!

Posted by Ven61 on (December 7, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

In discussing all this, why are we skirting the issue of poor captaincy? Are the folks in our cricketing ecosystem are afraid to criticize Dhoni? Are they afraid that they will be left out in the cold if they do?

Saw the same thing in the Indian first innings. Dhoni comes our and plays a horrendous shot off the first ball he plays, and almost gets caught at mid on. Given the situation of the match and that he is the captain, the shot was rank irresponsible. Yet, our commentators stayed quiet. Nothing in the papers the next day either. Nasser Hussain or Boycott would have called a spade a spade.

Does Dhoni wield immense power even in the press room?

Posted by vsukh on (December 7, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

After watching Indian team play in all these tests and everybody commenting on how Cook has dominated his batting in India . Have they really studied the videos " How to get Cook Out". Thanks to the person who has uploaded and made a great collection on Youtube. Hope Dhoni, Zaheer and Fletcher and ofcourse BCCI make an earnest effort to look at those videos. Also these video clipping shows McGrath and Stuart Clarke both 35 + years old making every effort in getting Cook out. Zaheer please watch and learn...... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4fv7DAjSlU

Posted by baranasai on (December 7, 2012, 4:01 GMT)

I think the series is alrady gone .it is shame all the indian players collectively failed and dont have any semblance of fighting.They have given up well in advance .Except one or two players like SRT in Patches rest have collectively failed to function as team-I will blame Duncan fletcher for hos unimaginative team. What is Zac doing -he should have been replaced by a young bowler -like England -if their top bowler is not dpoing ok replace him.same again spinners-it is sad Both spinners could not dominate-they have no clue as how to take wickets.The batsmen on the other hand have played very mediocre cricket./All the fans feel let down -just taking 40-60 as top score while their opponents keep pounding our bowlers,Do they get any advise from KUmble or so as R ashwin has gone for so many runs. it is a pity the bowling has not improved in both fast as well as spinning whether it is in India or abroad.we will make every foreign batsmen a hero by our shoddy bowlling .The series is gone

Posted by m_ilind on (December 7, 2012, 3:34 GMT)

The Sehwag run out and Pujara's dropped catch, and the overall lethargy in the field, suggests that the rot has truly set in. The bowling attack is truthless, the selectors keep going back to the old tried and failed picks, the batting has no backbone! Keep the stubborn Dhoni as the captain and India will hit rock bottom in the next two years.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (December 7, 2012, 3:23 GMT)

India are becoming blind by the IPL. Ashwin is a joke bowler. Anyone notice the only teams he did good against were Bangladesh, New Zealand and at home? Ojha has been competent for years now, but Ashwin is still given chances...Why? because he is economical for the Indian Captain's team in the IPL.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 2:41 GMT)

I'm tired of this excuse that Indian's are generally bad fielders. That is the symptom of a larger problem. Bad attitude. We've had fielding coaches for about 10+ years now. Why aren't we focusing on results there? And being fit doesn't mean being in form. Zaheer hasn't been in form for a while now. You can't even say that his batting is bad because it is simply irresponsible now. He can't field. Why is he there? Why is a young man like Ashwin so bad?

Remember Sidhu towards the end of his career? He was never athletic, but he decided that he wanted to become a better fielder. While it wasn't pretty, he did actually improve. While we made fun of him and called him Jonty Singh, we missed out on giving him credit for improving himself as a team player and actually saving runs. It all comes down to attitude. Sachin still has it, that's why he can still field well, the rest don't have it.

Posted by Hyderabadi_Nawab on (December 7, 2012, 1:53 GMT)

When the fielding coach does not have the answers then we end up with fielding teams as the one we are currently saddled with. What a pathetic bunch, the coach is trying hard to defend them rather than coming up with any new ideas such as sacking the lazy and unfit bunch - Nasser Hussain's comment about the Indian fielding unit was on the money only it didn't go down well with the Indian Board, what a situation. Why doesn't the selection panel take a decision to pick Zaheer only for tests ala Peter Siddle for AUS - why does Zaheer have to make that call - this is silly really. The next time a guy comes up short on the field just drop him, I'd rather have 11 sprightly energetic guys losing a test than this sorry bunch eking out a win on some under prepared wicket - enough said just give foelding the top priority and you will see major change in the attitude and results to go with it. But that's never going to happen in India.

Posted by M4yur on (December 7, 2012, 1:32 GMT)

While I agree with some of the comments from Sidharth, I think one of the major difference in Team India these days is that it is missing the desire to win. The players seem to be going through the motions without much emotion.

I don't know if it was G Kirsten's work or something else but India seem to be failing in all departments since he has left.

Lazy players like Sehwag and Zaheer were at their very best when G Kirsten was coaching. Makes me feel that something is missing from the dressing room.

Alas, the responsibility of individual performance will always fall on the individual player. Even in a team sport so I suppose it is unfair to blame Fletcher for India's short comings. Very disappointed in the past few test series. I haven't watched most of the matches but just reading about them makes me sick..

Posted by PMadhavarao on (December 7, 2012, 1:17 GMT)

Very pathetic display of bowling and fielding. very very disappointed. I wonder if the team reads these reviews or listen to game commentators ( Gavaskar , Shastri, etc.,) after the game. Very nicely they describe the faults of bowlers and batsmen and also give great suggestion on improvements (ex: reducing high backlift, not to change wide deliveries or bowling to your field etc.,) May be they are a good one day team, ( that too if they get Lucky). They only know to throw their bats at all the balls. They don't apply themselves, no patience, I also see laziness in shots, fielding. there should be some drastic changes in the team.

Posted by sgguy on (December 7, 2012, 1:13 GMT)

Now MSD will understand the importance of RD and VVS. They are decent fielders even at this age. Most of all they were committed to the team and not like our youngsters. Yuvraj can play only ODI and T20. He doesn't have the temperament to play the long innings. He will play a long innings once in 10 attempts which is not good.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 1:13 GMT)

Gavaskar, Dravid, VVS, Jaffer, Badrinath etc are all pure test class players. India had produced players of test calibre in the past. We still do, like Rahane, & Tiwari. Unfortunately excessive commercialization of cricket incentivised test players to adapt to suit the short format. Even Dravid & VVS were forced to, by circumstances.

Destroying test class players is only one edge of the double edged sword, cutting into the gentle body of test cricket. The other cutting edge is the fact that we keep on pushing great players of the short format into the test teams, totally neglecting the test calibre players. Rahane's frustration on the one hand, and Kohli's (to some extent Yuvi's too) travails on the other symbolise this -- India bleeding with self inflicted wounds with this double-edged sword.

Let us pray for the badly wounded Indian test cricket's healing and speedy recovery. Hope, timely remedies will save us all from writing painful obituaries! Amen.

Posted by challagalla on (December 7, 2012, 1:02 GMT)

No fresh insight or surprises here. Bad fielding, sloppy running has always plagued Indian cricket. We were never brilliant in the field as a team. Added to that we today have probably the weakest bowling attack in test cricket. Whats surprising is that we actually win the occasional test inspite of our failings. Fans might recollect tours in the past to West Indies where we invariably generously gave a " life " to Sir Viv Richards and he always took advantage scoring big. After the fabulous quartet of spinners retired, our bowling on paper never looked strong. Thats the reason why we never consistently win series and have to be satisfied with the occasional test win. Unfortunately that occasional win is so blown out of proportion, with fans and press going gaga, that the failings are overlooked by the selectors. Actually the replacement cupboard is bare so cannot really blame the selectors either. Big mystery, how did we ever get to be ranked number 1 test team?

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

I always wonder how Indians regards Zaheer as "Super Hero"... Never at ANY point of time he was an "exceptional bowler'!

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 6, 2012, 23:57 GMT)

Indian test cricket is DOOMED ! Pathetic state of affairs. And it won't improve any time soon. Luckily I am not a test cricket fan because India are still very good in ODIs and T20s.

Posted by Naresh28 on (December 6, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

@alexk400 is right we lose and yet the same team is put on the field. Our bowlers are pathetic - U19 SANDEEP SHARMA would do better then these bowlers. As said by Nampally we throw away our wickets without showing any fight when batting. Our fielders are PATHETIC.

Posted by here2rock on (December 6, 2012, 23:08 GMT)

The whole team including management, support staff, captain, coach and selectors should be removed from their jobs, they are a laughing stock of the world right now.

Posted by JustIPL on (December 6, 2012, 22:54 GMT)

More than ten fielders were required in the ground with the level of bowling that India currently have. Ashwin confused what to do with his bag of tricks, Ojha always dreaming of a wicket and always with dropped shoulders, ZAK has lost the nack. When batsmen are timing well faster men have to be on the boundary and that's exactly Dhoni did. This will make slower fielders in single saving position which is the exact defensive approach that is available to Dhoni when team is under pressure. Also, keeping pujara close was a very viable option so that he can cover two positions at shortleg and slip but he may be trying to be too smart and also might not have too much time taking the guards off doing double labor. Also, Pujara is being taken as the second coming of Dravid and was awarded the slips role. In short, the fielding resources were best utilized by Dhoni in the wake of sloppy bowling that his bowlers did. Dhoni is the captain cool in front of captain cook.

Posted by ccrriicc on (December 6, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

India is at this time a second rate side at best. You just can not focus on Pujara dropping a catch, that is part of the game, unfortunately our ethics are poor, natinally so when you see Ashwin in the first slip you wonder - compare Anderson with any of our bowlers - no not with Zaheer Khan, the poor man does whatever he can - we have made a contrcat with mediocrity - we must embrance Sachin's 76 and be happy with it - we can not play swing when we go away, we can not play spin (Panesar and Swann!) when we are home. Overhaul the whole BCCI - that is the only solution. Turn off your TVs and demand accountability from BCCI.

Posted by dinosaurus on (December 6, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

It is possible that Greg Chappell's unwelcome advice was more useful than was realised at the time.

Posted by JustIPL on (December 6, 2012, 22:10 GMT)

Nampally: You are right they are perhaps eagerly to the next IPL and just want to bypass these tests.

Posted by ElvisKing on (December 6, 2012, 21:46 GMT)

Like I had commented earlier here yesterday about Dhoni's idea about Ashwin as Match winner is going to be his biggest blunder. In 73 overs bowled Dhoni did not even try others at all....and he keeps on talking that he has Viru pa as an extra spinner but never utilizes him. Perhaps Virupa must be Spinning lots of Yarn on the Team Meeting and so Dhoni thinks he is a Spinner or may be Dhoni is spinning too much yarn about having extra spinners in the form Virupa , and Yuvraj and Kohli and does not trust in them at all.....whatever it is Dhoni is getting real good Dholai as a captain right now and Gr8 Players will say "Leave him Alone" so far and may be the time will come to Perhaps say " Leave him out " too.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 21:38 GMT)

it simple India play too much T20. they cant bat bowl or field for long periods. IPL has corrupted the Indian game

Posted by SanjivAwesome on (December 6, 2012, 21:33 GMT)

Fielding is not the only thing wrong with our team. It started with Dhoni's misguided media comments regarding pitches, to Sandeep's weaknesses in his team selection, to several India player's bulging money balances which dampen their passion to win. Let us admit it, once you know you have arrived and are financially secure, the hunger to win for your country is replaced by the slob around your mid-riff. Perhaps the BCCI should seriously consider compulsory rotation every 4 years - that way there will be an endless supply of fresh, hungry talent. India cricket is back to its nadir of the 80s

Posted by Chris_P on (December 6, 2012, 21:26 GMT)

Last year down here, Indian produced some of the worst fielding ever witnessed by a visiting team, with plenty being written about it. It seems nothing has been done after reading this, alarmingly so ,it appears to have gotten worse. Some of the players were very good, but too many were either not fit, not interested or simply not trained up in the art of fielding. And it is an art that needs to be practiced.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

This is hilarious. Poor coach cant even dare to express his frustration :) He'll get mobbed for pointing out most uncool and lethargic cricket team in the world. They are surely not interested in test match cricket anymore other than showing-off the played-up passion.

Posted by Nampally on (December 6, 2012, 20:28 GMT)

It is well known that the present team is poorly equiped in bowling with Yadev missing. Only one wkt. taker is Ojha. India definitely needs a proper off spinner. Ashwin is a disappointing - Not a wkt.Taker! None of his 4 balls are effective! Unlike Ajmal of Pakistan, he does not have the accuracy or turn. Strangely, Dhoni does not want to use Yuvraj or Sehwag. He did this in the 2 previous Tests too. These 2 are good bowlers!. Why. If Yuvraj still has health issues, let Jadeja play in his spot. Jadeja is a brilliant fielder & his latest form with 2 triple centuries in the Ranji trophy should give him immense confidence. The Selectors should seriously consider this change for 4th test. India face an uphill task of saving this test. First they have to get Cook - who has been there for 2 days - OUT.It wont be easy getting the rest Out either if bowlers do not show up. Dhoni needs to use all his 6 bowlers. Fielding needs a step improvement too. India needs to play very hard - no kidding!

Posted by am243am on (December 6, 2012, 20:17 GMT)

It was so painful to watch the game yesterday. India seemed to be playing a practice match. Even Yuvraj seemed to be completely lackluster. Uninspired team play, and very hopeless cricket. I guess it was inevitable that the catch would be dropped and at this time it seems inevitable that India will lose the game. England is getting better as the series progresses in all three departments of the game and India look to be in sharp decline.

Posted by Pilko_Pump_Pants on (December 6, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

The India test team is just going to get worse . The BCCI only care about money and that comes from 1 dayers and T20's . The younger players can't concentrate for long periods . The last 2 away test series against England and Australia were forgotten because of the usual we'll beat them at home , it doesn't matter what happens overseas. Now they can't win at home either , but so what , the BCCI will make loads of money from the IPL .For most of the first day there were 10 thousand in the ground in a city of 14 million in a cricket mad country. The BCCI have a lot to answer for.

Posted by JustIPL on (December 6, 2012, 19:33 GMT)

Again 79 runs from Indian tail prevented total disaster. Captain cool again chipped in. Being defensive we looked for 4th innings turn but match finishing in 3 innings.

Posted by TequillaGuy on (December 6, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Dhoni is probably the worst tactical captain I have seen who has enjoyed such an extended run without anyone questioning his place in team.When India was winning tests,it was inspite of Dhoni's tactics rather than due to him.India should have won the series in SA but Dhoni decided to spread the field as soon as SA lost 6 wickets.Even in the home series against Aus which India won,it required heroics of Laxman,what should have been easy win.I'll even attribute loss in confidence of Bhajji to Dhoni's tactics.India didnt play that badly in first test in England but again defensive fields gave England the momentum.Dhoni's defensive tactics and mindless field placings have not been questioned even though India has lost 8 test matches on a trot and about to loose second one at home.I hope Sachin scores couple of centuries and India looses the series so that people will stop talking about Sachin and start questioning the poor captaincy of Dhoni.Would do a lot of good to Indian cricket.

Posted by rogermal57 on (December 6, 2012, 19:05 GMT)

Monga is right - It was clear from the replays that Pujara was just fractionally slow in getting his body down to the level of the ball, no doubt due to the protective gear, which is not a hindrance for diving forward to loopy chances off bat and pad for example at short leg, but not the best when there is need to have firm and flexible readiness to flying edges at slip. I cannot understand why the protective gear cannot be switched on and off with positions, just like the helmet. Alternatively, why not let the unencumbered Kohli field at the vital 1st slip position; or Mr. (stylish sunglasses) Sehwag? Too late, Monday morning quarterbacking now. Let us stay positive though, India fans, and keep backing the team. Go India, fight, you have done it before.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 19:01 GMT)

A message from Pakistani Fan : Get rid off Zaheer......A bowler who cant even bowl 15 overs /inning what is point of including him

Posted by Nampally on (December 6, 2012, 19:00 GMT)

After the the Mumbai Test loss, I was 100% sure that there will be wholesale changes to the squad. But the Selectors chose the same squad replacing injured Yadev with Dinda. Same old team same old losing performance.I am once again invoking Einstien's definition of "Insanity" for the benefit of the Indian Selectors - "Repeating the same mistakes but expecting different results". When the Selectors are lacking in common sense, how can a team rise above defeat? The Selectors have to understand that this team is weak in every department. India needs balanced bowling side, keen batsmen who are hungry for runs & can score + alert fielders who can save runs & take catches.Common excuse given is India has no better team! India can field 2 teams of Test level right now. Guys like Dhawan,Tiwary, Chand, Jadeja, Sandeep Sharma, P. Singh, Nadeem, Negi & A.Mishra are lighting up the Ranji with no recognition.At least they are keen & hungry compared to present lot.MSD is not even using his bowlers!

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 6, 2012, 18:47 GMT)

Basically, the problem lies within the Indian mentality of being physical and fit. INDIANS as a people are UNFIT. I mean no offence here but fitness culture in India is next to hopeless. Most people believe in eating well, and living leisurely lives. Fitness is never a priority unless you are a cricketer or sports person. That is totally different to say my country - Canada, where MOST Canadians are fitness oriented or at least practice some kind of exercising norms. Sadly, for the Indian team though, they will NEVER become a formidable test team again ! I think India have become the new West Indies. The decline has begun in earnest. I expect India to get as low as no.7 in the rankings in the next 2 years. It's now evident they can't even win at home against good opposition.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

For all that happens on and off the field there are two persons who are to be blamed: Dhoni and Fletcher. It looks as though that they will never learn from their mistakes. Winning or losing is part and parcel of game but the way the Indians lose at home ground raises a lot of questions about the players commitment and personality. It is so sad and makes me to ask so many question: Is this the same team and are these same players that I love and root for them?

Posted by vik56in on (December 6, 2012, 18:06 GMT)

Over a decade now Yuvraj Singh has been tried in Test cricket with no plasible results.Even a nursery kid in India can tell you that the Rainas and Yuvrajs are fit only for ODIs and 20/20. Both Sehwag and Gambhir are loud about their rhetoric and verbiage but don't back up their words with performances and let the bat do the talking.It might not be a bad idea to bring Sreesanth for the final test.The mad caper might sometimes bring up a trick or two from his sleeve.

Posted by BobCo on (December 6, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

@thegingerprince: my thoughts exactly. I've always felt that the main reason the Indian fielding hasn't improved sufficiently (not to mention the obvious fitness issues some players have) are a consequence of the egos involved. Indian players are lauded throughout the country, and almost all of them live on pedestals of varying heights. Eventually they start believing their own press releases, and then its basically impossible to motivate them to do things they don't want to -- they've some how forgotten all the hard work they did to get there in the 1st place. sad really, as Team India really could (and should) be the world's dominant team. :-(

Posted by Rahulbose on (December 6, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

Haven't you gotten the memo from BCCI. Test cricket is for losers. Fielding/ bowling skills that enable you to play cricket for 5 days are redundant. You only need the capability to bowl 4 overs at ~6 RPO and be able to field for 20 overs to be successful in India.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 6, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

This is not new. India always drop few chances. But lately the wicket taking chances are less and less especially in flat wickets. I think india will lose this test as well. Because of duncan fletcher and dhoni way of stick with same team policy. Running out sehwag in flat wicket is crime of everest proportion than dropping cook. If india made 550 the pressure on engalnd would be 100 times. Now England licking their chops to finish of india and they will do it without any effrot because india keep giving gift to england. India throw away batting first chance and not used it to their advantage. Pujara becoming next kohli in that they show off their sills first few tests and once people praise them they start slack off. They lose their concentration. They need to hungry for runs like cook and sachin. They all sachin inspre if sachin really inspired them they will be frugal in giving away their wickets and hungry on runs like him.

Posted by Nampally on (December 6, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

Sid, Sehwag was playing like he did in Ahmadabad - cautious start & slowly picking up the tempo. He was on track to repeat his century from First test before careless Gambhir ran him out. If you couple that with the runs lost in Cook's dropped catch by Pujara, it is nearly as much as the Indian Total in the first innings. It is a sad conclusion but true. England bowled, fielded & now batting brilliantly! India are exactly the opposite to England's performance. In the Mumbai Test, Ashwin missed an easy run out - he threw wide from less than 25 yards with Cook yards out. When you are giving gifts to Cook, you cannot win matches.That was the turning point in the Mumbai Test as are Sehwag's Run out + Cook's dropped catch in this Test. Indian batsmen are totally "uncommitted" to staying at the crease when set - as Cook does. They throw away their wkts. as soon as they score a few runs. Gambhir,Yuvraj,Tendulkar all fell carelessly, after they were well set instead of going for big score.

Posted by arun_padmanabhan on (December 6, 2012, 17:01 GMT)

Has the Indian test team now stooped to its lowest since the 90s? i think so. According to me, either Yuvraj Singh or MSD have to be chucked out. More probably, the former. Atleast MS puts a price on his wicket and is still the best choice for a captain. Responsibility should trump flair and flamboyance. Bring in Badri or Manoj Tiwary. If Pujara was included because he scored heaps of runs for saurashtra, then why not take a gamble with Ravindra Jadeja?!

Posted by Pelham_Barton on (December 6, 2012, 16:51 GMT)

Nice idea for Trevor Penney to come on the field as a substitute. Unfortunately it is now contrary to Standard Test Match Playing Condition 1.2.3, which states "All those nominated including those nominated as substitute fielders, must be eligible to play for that particular team and by such nomination the nominees shall warrant that they are so eligible."

Posted by roarster on (December 6, 2012, 16:50 GMT)

A lot of mileage over the years is given to "super-sub" Gary Pratt's running out of Ponting at Trent Bridge in 2005 as though it was some tactical/cynical masterplan. The fact is that Pratt took the field as a replacement for Simon Jones who was not taking a comfort break (a cheeky tactic occasionally used by England bowlers). On the contrary his injury was genuine to the point that he was unable to take the field for England again in that match, series or indeed his career.

Posted by prabhukt429 on (December 6, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

This us the state of test cricket in india.the pujara incident shows they are not seriously taking test cricket.they are only intrested in ridiculous t20, leagues

Posted by NaniIndCri on (December 6, 2012, 16:31 GMT)

The problem with Indian team is that everyone has their place fixed no matter how they perform. I cannot remember Zaheer bowling well in the recent past. And Yuvraj in the team baffles me. You can support his inclusion if he was a great 'test player', he has poor record in test cricket, not played good amount of it for 2 years, his fielding is completely off and does not bowl that often when there are already 2 specialist spinners so on what basis is he in the team? No one knows. All the batsman are playing one 50 for several tests. Gambhir, Sehwag, Sachin, Yuvraj, Dhoni all these play a very rare good innings and continue their pathetic performances rest of the time. If you look at the wickets there are no vicious deliveries at all. Agree that they are good deliveries but I cannot think of one that is unplayable. Consensus is that India were 100 less to a good score which means if they batted better they should be more than 500 sadly third time from the last test they batted poorly.

Posted by OzWally on (December 6, 2012, 16:19 GMT)

Between the 40 runs the Indians give away by sloppy fielding each day, they also short themselves 40 runs a day when batting with their painfully slow running between wickets. Do they think themselves that good that they can "spot" the opposition 80 runs after the 1st 2 innings and still win?

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 6, 2012, 16:16 GMT)

Whenever India wins a test match, there is a catch, simple as that! What is the catch? Nothing but umpiring howlers. Look at the series against NZ where NZ had 14 umpiring howlers making them lose 2-0. India opposes DRS all because they know that umpires will make error in the favor of the overrated Sachin Tendulkar who is nothing but mediocre. This Indian sides is nothing but overrated mediocre. Any school boy side of perhaps Bangladesh can thrash this Indian side comfortably.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (December 6, 2012, 16:11 GMT)

'...why some of the bowlers don't improve their fielding...'. First things first - why don't they improve their bowling?

Posted by BTyagi on (December 6, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

LOL.....very nice title! It aptly summarize state of Indian test cricket and attitude of Dhoni. They are just going through motions and waiting for IPL auction to begin :) .

Posted by luks on (December 6, 2012, 15:46 GMT)

Poor guy, he's being put on the spot and its clear he isn't very good at talking to the media. I don't think the coach and team are using his expertise either. I don't think its his fault, its the coach's responsibility.

Posted by mikey76 on (December 6, 2012, 15:45 GMT)

India are pathetic. They'll keep sliding down the rankings past SL and the West Indies. When you have a limited side say like NEw Zealand then you work doubly hard on your fielding, India just look sloppy and disinterested which seeps through to every department of the game. England will just pile up the runs and win then go to Nagpur and do the same. South Africa will be looking over their shoulder.

Posted by TRAM on (December 6, 2012, 15:37 GMT)

"Some of our fielders can't field everywhere". I think he meant ""Some of our fielders can't field. Period". He can only talk about fielding right? If you ask the batting coach he will say "Some of our batsmen can't bat" & "Some of our batsmen can't run between wkts". And the bowling coach will say "Some of our bowlers cant bowl"....We will soon hear open statements like "Some of our players are not really players, they are movie stars"..... Pathetic !

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

India needs to get Duncan Fletcher out of the job and also relieve MSD from Test captaincy. We need to get Shane Warne as the coach and Kohli to lead India in the Tests.

Posted by Dhanno on (December 6, 2012, 15:34 GMT)

Lets beat england 4-0. That is what we should do. Prepare spinner friendly pitches, when we go to australia/ england they prepare seamer pitches, high high bounce why not we do same thing??

Ooops.. too late for that ! But where did that bandwagon disppear ? Its good some one is writing articles about the state of fielding but I had predicted this at start of series, even if pitches are spinning/ turning/ minefielding etc, zaheer was the bowlers of 4 years ago, sachin/ viru/ gambhir batsmen of 3 years ago the team will not apply itself for 5 days each for 4 test matches. Our performances would only drop as series proceeds. Now the fact is, neither we have decent players nor application to last a 4 match series. We are good for a T20, where Ashwin restricts runs to 5.7 rpo and makes it to the top of bowling chart, Kohli makes 7 50s in row against club bowling while Abdul Rehman, Ajmal, Azhar Ali, Clarke, Trott, Cook toil away somewhere far in real game of TEST cricket.

Posted by InsideHedge on (December 6, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

And that brings up the question (again) of why the selectors do NOT release ALL the reserves for Ranji duty? The domestic season is very short as it is, how will a player improve if he's just sitting around in the dressing room? If a player has just missed out, how can he possibly be considered for the next game if in the meantime he hasn't played any games?

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 15:25 GMT)

well wat can we say u said it all. Just a thought I heard Jadeja was scoring heaps of runs wonder why he's missing while batsman who flops keep playing, something to learn from the Aussies"If you dont score u get dropped no matter how great you are"

Posted by unbiasedfan on (December 6, 2012, 15:10 GMT)

Ajit Agarkar - outstanding fast bowler/ out fielder. Good fielder, I conceed reluctantly and relatively speaking vis-a-vis Zaheer Kan but bowler much less an outstanding one!!!!!

As regards Zaheer refusing not to quit any form of the game, I understand, why should he voluntarily give up making money when he knows his days are numbered. But what is the BCCI doing? Can they not drop him from the one dayers and international T20s and send a message that his test days are also numbered if he does not buckle up. It is the BCCI's fault for lacking the (you know what).

Posted by Kashi0127 on (December 6, 2012, 15:09 GMT)

I think India Cricket Board is fooling themselves and fooling larger India populace in believing India continues to deserve Test Playing Status In Cricket they should keep removing bottom 20% teams out of Test Playing Status just like they do in World cup events of Soccer, Hockey etc.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 15:01 GMT)

There are too many players in the Indian side who play for their own gain, and not for their country. Who cares, I get paid, anyways, eh?

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 6, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

reading between lines, there is just 1 man in that dressing room that has any SAY in this Indian team, that is DHONI. the others including Duncan, Joe, Trevor are in advisory roles, which means you can either take it or just ignore. Dhoni has been the best captain, when things were going good, but his tactics especially field positions is awful offlate, not just in tests it was evident in T20s as well. Unfortunatley no one is challenging his position as captain. Viru can be the only nearest contender, but Viru has his own game to play. Sadly, Indian cricket is just not going anywhere. Its just collapsing.

Posted by thegingerprince on (December 6, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

Fletcher's a stickler for detail and sets great store by fielding, one of the reasons why he was always reluctant to give Panesar a game when he was England coach. So how come India's fielding is just as bad as it's always been? Is it because the players don't like being told what to do?

They were awful again in the field today. it reminded me of the bad old days of English cricket, when the Australians used to steal singles from them all the time.

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