India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 4th day

From magic to harsh reality for India at Eden

Sidharth Monga

December 8, 2012

Comments: 159 | Text size: A | A

R Ashwin recorded a half-century whilst batting with No. 10, India v England, 3rd Test, Kolkata, 4th day, December 8, 2012
R Ashwin now averages more than 50 in this series; only Cheteshwar Pujara has done better among the Indians © BCCI
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Series/Tournaments: England tour of India
Teams: England | India

Eden Gardens is an iconic Indian venue. When Indian players and captains need a lifeline, they go there. When all else fails, you go to Eden. A lot happens in sport that defies logic, that falls in the realm of the magical. That's what makes us love sport. A lot of the magic in Indian cricket resides at Eden. Wristy batsmen from Hyderabad have rediscovered their timing here, tired spinners have found new life in those fingers, jaded captains have turned into geniuses. And the greatest comeback in Test history was enacted here.

There have been heartbreaks too - you don't need to look beyond that World Cup semi-final and the Test loss after having Pakistan at 26 for 6 on the first morning - but that comeback against Australia in 2000-01 is a seminal moment in Indian Test cricket. For it gave birth to India's greatest period in Test cricket. All the fight and adaptability and class that India showed in Test cricket over the next 10 years can be traced back to those two magical days at Eden.

It is poignant but also fitting that it has all come to an emphatic end at the same venue. Even those living in a fantasy world created by spin doctors they choose to surround themselves with can't turn their backs to this debacle. Sport is a lot about denying. About denying your physical limitations, strong opposition, the elements. You need to psyche yourself up. Openers need to tell themselves they will be all right against the new ball being hurled at them at close to 150kmph. Tennis players tell themselves they can last five hours in the Melbourne heat in January.

India, though, have lived in a different kind of denial for the last 18 months. In their minds they are still the world's No. 1 in Tests and should have won the World Twenty20 but for five minutes of rain. Somewhere down the line this team changed from one that was bitterly disappointed at coming back from South Africa with a 1-1 draw to one that was indifferent to two whitewashes, looking for excuses and not reasons.

It is ironic that it has taken a defeat at their field of dreams, where magic happens, to give them the reality check they desperately need. It was cold. It was logical. It was brutal. It was like VVS Laxman, a man renowned for defying logic, playing the most logical innings of his career, a nine-ball duck at the WACA as India lost inside three days.

Ashwin now averages more than 50 in this series; only Cheteshwar Pujara has done better among the Indians. However, that average is 10 units below his bowling average. Here is a bowler doing better than most of the batsmen in his side and yet not making up for the damage his insipid bowling has caused.

And how painful every blow must have been. They kept denying their shortcomings because they had a home record to fall back upon. In Mumbai, they were given a pitch where they used to always win. They lost. In Kolkata, they were given a pitch on which it used to be impossible to beat them. They are going to lose here too.

It was ironic too that R Aswhin took them into the final day, summing up through that late show of defiance all that is wrong with this team. Ashwin is an offspinner suited more to limited-overs cricket, but he became the fastest Indian to 50 wickets through home series against West Indies and New Zealand. He doesn't lack gumption, which showed in his batting in Australia where his was the third-best average among the Indians. With an unbeaten 83 full of shots proper batsmen play, full of the presence of mind to farm the strike to protect the lesser batsmen, he has not promised magic; he has further drilled home the reality.

Ashwin now averages more than 50 in this series; only Cheteshwar Pujara has done better among the Indians. However, that average is 10 units below his bowling average. His bowling - rightly or wrongly - was the source of much of India's confidence that they would beat England at home. Just imagine, here is a bowler doing better than most of the batsmen in his side and yet not making up for the damage his insipid bowling has caused.

Had this happened at some other ground, India would still have Eden Gardens to fall back on. Why, as recently as yesterday Pragyan Ojha said he was confident the "guys will do well" because "we have a good record at this ground". It is good that the spirit of Eden turned its back on India.

When he trapped Zaheer Khan lbw, Steven Finn showed the renowned master of reverse swing how it is done effectively nowadays. The oldest man in the team, going through the worst phase of his own career, is showing half the side how to keep their chin up and field. The spinners are outspun, the quicks outswung, the batsmen 'outpatienced', and the fielders exposed. There is nowhere to hide, there are mirrors everywhere.

Between Kolkata then and Kolkata now, India have given their fans much joy in Test cricket. They got rid of the well-earned reputation of being poor travellers. Painstakingly and through foresight and planning, they earned India respect in Test cricket. It was good while it lasted.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by tests_the_best on (December 11, 2012, 0:24 GMT)

Anyone remember how Ravi Shastri started as a no. 11 and then became an opener. How hard would it be to change Ashwin from a no 8 to a no. 6? He plays like vvs anyway.

Posted by blueG on (December 10, 2012, 17:08 GMT)

Front-Foot-Lunge what happened in the summer of 2012?

Posted by moBlue on (December 10, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

ashwin could be the all-rounder we've long been looking for! he should not be considered a stock bowler. we need another wicket-taking bowler in his place but he should stay in the team as an all-rounder, batting as high as #6, perhaps. his batting has been consistently very good! ...and he has the heart for a fight! ...two rare qualities of his that make me say he should not be dropped from the test team!!! they should have him work on his fitness and improve his fielding (he is still young!) and he could become a phenomenal all-rounder very quickly!!!

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (December 10, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

Sid, Zaheer is 34 and Tendulkar is 39 so how this make Zaheer the oldest man in the team?

Posted by ADI_GUNGALIYA_FANTASY on (December 10, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

TILL NOW Round 6 day 3, My Ranji XI 2012 with batting order:

1. Jiwanjot Singh (661 runs) 2. Akshath Reddy (530 runs) 3. Parthiv Patel(WK & C) (694 runs) 4. Ravindra Jadeja (794 runs & 21 wickets) 5. Hiken Shah (433 runs) 6. Manprit Juneja (571 runs) 7. Parvez Rassol (436 runs & 22 wickets) 8. Rishi Dhawan (374 runs & 32 wickets) 9. Rakesh Dhruv (340 runs & 20 wickets) 10. Shahbaz Nadeem (26 wickets) 11. Sandeep Sharma (29 wickets)

other Reserves 12. Paras Dogra (617 runs) 13. Siddarth Kaul (28 wickets) 14. Ishwar Pandey (29 wickets) 15. Yashpal Singh (652 runs)

What all of u think about it against ENGLAND ? I think much competitive than current indian team & might be 3-0 we would have as spin option of Jadeja, Rassol,Nadeem & Dhruv + Batting Depth + good young fast bowler + batsman who implement them & looks for big score.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 11:16 GMT)

The difference is in the attitude, English team wants to win as a team and they will do anything for that, they are ready to drop Broad, discipline Pieterson and above all work on their bowling. Mushtaq Ahmed, Flower and Gooch are ways ahead of the Indian Contigent. Indian team is playing on past memories, they need to change, the coach at this level must provide inputs and that is simply not happening, see how badly the spinners bowled session after session, no one seems to be telling them, Virat Kohli is playing outside off, he should be guided, instead we are talking of Rahul Dravid and VVS.

Posted by Kamran_Pakistan on (December 10, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

A very insightful article, indeed there's much to think about. india need to understand that it's batsmen who are their strength. Bolwing has hardly been the winner for them but actually the pressure createed by their batsmen on the opponents. They score big and then beat teams under pressure which gets them wickets, so I reckon if they can even sort out their batting woes, their bowlers would not have to do much to win them matches. Having said that, nothing should be taken away from the gutsy england players, when they realised they would only get turners here, they decided to compete in india's own zone and not whine about the picth conditions.

Posted by gnaniramchand on (December 10, 2012, 10:41 GMT)

Hero worship and complacency have damaged the reputation, once again proved that we are only paper tigers. Received the taste of their own medicine (tailor made pitches to suit Indian spinners, finally killed the image of India as a real test playing nation. At least in future, let us prepare neutral pitches to last for five days and at the same time result oriented too.

Posted by baranasai on (December 10, 2012, 10:08 GMT)

I agree with siddharth. Indian team is on transit as senior batsmen and bowlers have lkft and this has exposed the middle order where SRT is struggling-as he was ably supported by Dravid Lakshman and others. The openers have also failed in some ways as they could not capitalise the good wickets to strat.The bowling depends only on 2 spinners-if they have off day then the opponents start hammering the bowling.The Fast bowlers in general have not done very well except in patches. we need genuine fast bowlers and that is a fact will not chnage -our weakness es to be accepted honestly and look for remedies-no bale culture. My own feeling is SRT will go after Nagpore test himself as he has seen the writing on the wall very clearly that he is a spent force and nothing more to offer for the team .I adore him but he has done his best and time to say Bye with due respect to the countrys need

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 10, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

Ashwin has not performed in these two tests, period. But then he is the best choice going around now. Its a huge learning curver for him, both this England tour and the tour to Austraila. Even Jumbo and Bhajji dont have great stats overseas. Give this guy a break, some time to develop to the demands of International Cricket. Our spin cupboard especaillay offspin is bare. the only other offspin prospect is Jalaj Saxena who also is in early career in domestic cricket. Ashwin has shown guts, and attitude. All he needs is some comfort in that dressing room and belief from selectors and fans to develop. I'd say drop him from T20 so can go back to Ranji and work on new skills. The problem with our schedules is never allows players to return to Ranji and work on weakness. Good luck Ashwin. I believe in your abilities.

Posted by CrazybutFun on (December 10, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

@ Bravo Bravo - The author is not trying to glamorize Indian cricket - With that win in Kolkata in 2001, India ended Australia s 16 match winning streak and also won the series. India drew a test series in England in 2002 and won it in 2007. India won a test series in Pakistan in 2003. India have also won a test series in NZ and WI during this period.Ind was well on its way to win a series in Aus(Steve Waughs last series) but for that ill fated sydney test, thanks to bucknor we drew the series. India drew a test series in South Africa a couple of years ago and add to this they have hardly lost at home. India s rise to No 1 was no joke although i agree we never had the bowling to be No 1 for a long time. I completely agree that we were hammered in Eng and Aus last yr(due to absolute lack of vision on part of the selectors) but before that the last ten years have been a good chapter in indian test cricket. Plz get ur facts right before commenting.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Beautifully put Mr Monga. All that was beautiful- through sweat, blood, toil and yet amazing grace has turned into stubborn obdurate denial! Oh lord!

Posted by chin-music on (December 10, 2012, 6:01 GMT)

Good summing up, Sidarth ! As an Indian, I can feel sad about India's humiliation - but as an objective cricket-follower , I must say that no team/board/fans in international cricket deserve these just desserts more aptly than India. Not having known any success for the first 70 years of their test cricket , they showed themselves utterly incapable of handling the limited success that came their way post-2001, with any grace or honesty. It is not an accident that Indian posters on cricinfo are the most unreasonable, bigoted and rude (especially when we win!) , or that Indian broadcast channels (quite accurately) judge that disgustingly chauvnist promos like the recent "Angrezon ka band.." etc are just the right pulse of the Indian cricket mentality. The same arrogance, hero worship, self conceit and denial of reality rubs off on the players on field as well --- & it is not unsatisfying to see this whole rotten structure come collapsing. Hope it results in a massive clean up !

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

These defeat show us how important Gary Kirsten and John Wright were in building those onderful teams of the not-so recent past.

Posted by   on (December 10, 2012, 4:05 GMT)

Is there a point reiterating what happened in 2001? The team is different, the opposition is different and while playing in India, we forget that we aren't playing a side which is a bunch of fools. Even a side like NZ brought stutters to the Indian team during the short test series. England is a bunch of professional players and we must appreciate that Cook, Trott, Pieterson, Panesar and co. did as herculean job after the Ahmedabad debacle as Laxman and Dravid did. If looked at closely, its the seamers that did better than spinners for England at Eden, as against Mumbai.

Posted by AncientAstronaut on (December 10, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

Until now, Indian fans at least had the comfort of home wins to fall back on, but now even that comfort is gone. Since the World Cup, India has become one of the worst teams in the world. It's painful to see this decline from champions to losers. Having said that, congratulations to the English side. They're winning where it's extremely hard for visiting sides to win. Well done!

Posted by Jan on (December 10, 2012, 3:42 GMT)

Sid... this is too good. You have poured out every one's thoughts here. Every point agreed including criticizing Ashwin. Looking at the scorecard it looked Ashwin fought a lone battle but then every one is forgetting that his main role in the team is supposed to be a wicket taking off spinner and he has definitely failed in that role and had he failed with the bat as well then he is sure to have faced the axe. I guess Ashwin fought to keep his place in the playing XI.

Posted by SouthPaw on (December 10, 2012, 0:54 GMT)

Tendulkar shouldn't retire, why should he? But he should be dropped, why shouldn't he?

Posted by CurrentPresident on (December 9, 2012, 22:29 GMT)

In hindsight, the worst thing that happened to Indian test cricket was their World Cup win in 2011.

The team lost all its hunger after that. It was a grand finale, after which there was no motivation left to climb any more mountains. Especially since a lot of players were towards the end of their career.

Zaheer, Laxman, Tendulkar, Harbhajan should all have retired right away. Even Dravid - one of monumental self discipline could not carry on for long.

For Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj and Dhoni it would have taken a total reworking of their roles or an extended break to regain the drive that is essential to winning a long drawn out duel that is test cricket.

So yes, we do need wholesale changes since the current set of senior players are emotionally done. None has exhibited the emotional discipline to stay hungry. It is tough for the best and impossible for the Indians.

In situations like these, experience is a liability. Bring the young blood in. We need fight, we need hunger.

Posted by hvijay.1985 on (December 9, 2012, 20:35 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge: Yes, India have been beaten by a better team. Post the dominant Australian era, all teams in world cricket are now losing, but it is the manner in which India have lost over the past year that has been disheartening. The players are not up for a fight, and they deny outright that anything is wrong. That's why a change is necessary.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

Nicely written! "Poor travellers" is a generous term for a bad team.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 16:43 GMT)

A fitting obituary to Indian test cricket, It will take a long time for India to recover and start showing consistent results in test cricket. Loss of the a generation of great players, and Sachin around the corner.. will be tuff to make up. Just thinking IPL to blame for the current generation of crickets lack of patience.

Posted by bobmartin on (December 9, 2012, 16:36 GMT)

Speaking as an outsider... from some of the comments in this and other threads, one gathers that there is more to being selected to play test cricket for India than simply being a good enough player... ie.. some influences outside the game... If that is the case, and I hope for the sake of cricket in India it isn't, not only is it unethical, but it explains why so many underperforming and well past it players keep being selected which is leading to the current lack of positive results... It also degrades the whole process of selection which should be based solely on the ability of the player to represent his country.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

India is still 1 in their minds and elsewhere in reality..

Posted by sjm5000 on (December 9, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

Get Alastair Cook out for under 100 in Nagpur and India will win. The teams and fans are well matched in everything including over celebrating and over reacting. Let Cook get another 100 and England will win. Such a fine line. The truth is the differences between the two cultures - the swinging ball in England and the spinning ball in India - are one of the things that give the game so much class.

Posted by Naresh28 on (December 9, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

Sid I used the same phrase as you(in comments) when we lost in Mumbai - "India has no place to hide" I feel our bowling has been slowily killing our batsman in confidence and mind. I feel that even if we score 350 our bowlers will not be able to defend this anywhere in the world. For the final test India should pack a whole lot of variety bowlers even at expense of a batsman.

Posted by SamRoy on (December 9, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

I agree with @Siddhanth_85. In my view, I think Ashwin is a very strong character and not only that he is the most talented cricketer in the team. He is a not the best spinner, not by a long shot but as an overall package he is damn good. Yet, you Siddharth have been overtly critical of him in your articles. Lets face it: Ashwin is a better batsman than Raina and Yuvraj and a better spin bowler than Chawla, Mishra and the current Harbhajan (not the Harbhajan before 2008). Will I have him in my team? Hell yeah, because he covers for two players and discounting the fact that he can cost 5-10 runs on the field per innings due to slow fielding. Its the same reason why Tendulkar is only 70% the cricketer Kallis is even though Sachin might be equal or better than Kallis in batting. Kallis fills up the role of fifth bowler more effectively than anyone in world cricket (close to 300 test wickets).

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 15:07 GMT)

India need to find Batsmen who can play test cricket. Batsmen like Pujara who, unlike Kohli, Dhoni and yuvraj, play long innings and are not tempted to go for the big shots ( courtesy IPL). India neeed to find non T20 batsmen.

Posted by pr3m on (December 9, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

So depressing to read, I managed to get through the entire thing only in short bytes.

Posted by maxymax on (December 9, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

Wow! Great job Sid! How things would be different if the BCCI honcho had even 0.1% of your sense!

Posted by bobmartin on (December 9, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

Speaking as an Englishman but also an avid cricket fan, I think this article sums up India's problem precisely. When they lose, they have all sorts of excuses but never recognize the real reasons for the loss. As I wrote in an unpublished comment in a previous thread, until you recognize that you have a problem, you will never solve it. Despite having dropped from #1 in the test rankings to #5 in a relatively short space of time, the Indian selectors give every indication that they are in denial about the current parlous state of Indian test cricket. Until they recognize that and take some positve steps to solve the shortcomings, the situation will not improve.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

A wonderfully written article. Lovely. Surely Dhoni should go. He is neither a good captain, batsman or wicket keeper. He doesnt instill any confidence he just sits still. Lucky to win with good players who were all fighting for their places in the team. Now he is shown up as dusty Test player, poor captain and zero motivator. There was nothing the Indians could do well, including some pathetic fielding. So now there is no where to hide. Ofcourse Mr srinivasan will support his golden boy or the money counters will then stop ringing.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

A well-written piece, but wonder whether those who need to read it will, and if they do whether it will illicit a response? India remains a talented side, but it would seem a lazy one - their fielding in this match cost them so many runs, which would have this match much closer than it finally proved to be... Although there are changes for the final test, I wonder how many of them will make the final XI? Kohil is out of form but I suspect he will play; Dhoni will play too, but is he really the best keeper in India? And more importantly is he the best man to captain the side at Test level? My answers speaking as an England supporter are "surely not" and "no". If Dhoni really saw this series as revenge for the 4-0 thrashing in England, then there was the preparation and planning to give every chance of making that a reality? Denying England exposure to spinners in the warm-ups and creating pitches to favour home bowlers is one thing, but where was the rest of it..?

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

This article is bound to get Indian fans emotional. The transition has come a full circle now. :'(

Posted by phani20 on (December 9, 2012, 13:28 GMT)

BCCI & Dhoni did not foresee this when they forced Lax to retire....they thought 2 home series and we can win easily. Lax was preparing for NZ & ENG tour which suggests he was not planing to leave....

will we ever get players of atleast 10% calibre as SRT,RD & Lax?? With young players want to impress the IPL franchisees more than test selectors, I guess time for death of Test Cricket in India..... :(

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 9, 2012, 13:22 GMT)

England have done well in the battle of the Minnows. SA and Oz are streaks ahead though when it comes to the best test teams.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

1 of the best Sidharth.. U r right.. "It was good while it lasted"

Posted by Herath-UK on (December 9, 2012, 12:35 GMT)

I do not know why it bacame a sudden reality to Monga,just recently Arvinda (De Silva) went on record prior to the current series saying India has a very weak bowling unit so the results not a big surprise at all except for those burying the head in the sand. Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

denial is the key word. what a 'true' and well-articulated article.kudos to Mr. Monga. Other than india, the rest of the world knows the indian team is ordinary..and surely do laugh at their back. so here's the eye-opener.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

The bad thing about good times is it will not last for ever and the good thing about the bad times is that it will certainly go away so between these times one should be patient...........n try to figure out their weaknesses ad rectify them........that is the main problem for india now that they lack the replacements for their greats in batting the likes of dravid,ganguly,laxman and the firing tendulker n in bowling kumble,firing zaheer in away india is going through arebuilding stage as few years back aussies were but recovered well but it took time so will take time for india to be like the team it was 2 years back............

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

An unbelievable article, comprising all the passions, emotions and desperation of a normal Indian cricket fan. I, and sure many of us can relate to this piece by Monga.

Posted by Suresh_85 on (December 9, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

Hello Mr Sidharth Monga. with all due respect to your articles ,I find it shocking that you continue to criticise Ashwin . The Indian team needs gutsy and thinking cricketers like Ashwin.Yes he had an average tour with the ball in Australia. but in the 8 home tests since last year he has been consistently picking up wickets in 6 out of 8 matches. Lets not get into the quality of opposition as we have many stars who have failed even against West Indies and New Zealand. we have batsmen who have havent scored test hundreds for 2 years and still retain thier places and continue to be backed by selectors and certain sections of the media. And here we have an emerging all round talent who has been below average with the ball in Mumbai and Kolkata but has shown the fight to score runs when his bowling has let him down.We need strong characters in our team and Ashwin is one of them. And for your information his overall test performances in the last year is better than his ODI performances.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

What an article Sir Ji...Its no secret that there wont be any major changes although India is going to loose 3-1. everything will stay the same as it has been after the whitewashes...

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 9, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

India have just been beaten by the better team, and there's no shame in that. For a long time now, England have been a highly skillful team built around a strong attitude to fitness, preparation and team ethic. After a harsh last winter when they fell foul of struggling to adapt their game to sub-continent pitches and the new DRS-impact on batting, they've returned to their old ways by winning games of cricket. They have Cook, the world's best test opener. They have Anderson, the now legendary master of both flat Asian pitches as well as green-tops. They have the the two best spinners in the world. India shouldn't change their team for the final test.

Posted by balajik1968 on (December 9, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

It was all about a core of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid Kumble and Laxman, not in any particular order. There has been no Indian victory in the last decade or so without performances from at least one of these five. The others have chipped in but these guys were the key. Four of the five are gone, and it is a question of time for the fifth. It is time for a renewal, but for that a lot of deadwood has to be removed. To start with take Dhoni, Gambhir, Sehwag and Zaheer out. Tendulkar should hang up his boots. We need to completely revamp the Indian team. But I doubt this will happen, because Dhoni seems to have an iron grip on the captaincy, the only reason he is in the team. India also seriously needs to address the cancer called the IPL.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

to be very true, India is a place where we needed attacking captains and not the captains who defends.. COOK made COUNTER ATTACK and WON DHONI wanted to DEFEND and LOST. Wake up Captain, you should not worry about the PITCH.. Your worry should be Your GAME..

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 9:20 GMT)

Tendulkar still has the highest test avg by any Indian in the history..............1 bad year doesn't make him a bad player if he can score at an outstanding avg of 70 & 80 in 37th & 38th years of life after disastrous 34th &35th years then no wonder he can repeat that feat at 40 &41 as well................His fitness is good. Just that he was a bit out of practice in 2012. Additionally he is still no 1 Indian test batsman on current ICC Rankings.

Posted by Alok_lon on (December 9, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

Great article, putting the sad journey that Indian cricket has been through in the last 2 years in a wider context. It is the difference in attitude which most irks me and shocks me. As you point out, the difference between being dissatisfied with a 1-1 draw in South Africa, and being resigned to defeat in two 4-0 whitewashes and now in this series. Sehwag says he is not embarrassed. That is the problem. As a great player, he should feel embarrassed by the way he and others have given away their wickets!

I can't help noticing that this attitude shift in Indian cricket coincides with the departure of Gary Kirsten, and given how well the South African side are now performing with him in the backroom, this perhaps shows that India's success in the 2 years up to the 2011 World Cup was due to Kirsten's presence.

Whatever Ashwin's limitations in test-level talent, I would continue to pick him for his attitude - we need more of that fighting attitude to come back into India cricket.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

Beautifully written Siddharth! Amazing article, such poise which is what Indian Cricket needs at the moment! I have grown up with this team, been through the rises and the fall! Stood up, tears in my eyes, to our National Anthem at the 2003 WC final only to see getting walloped by the rampaging Aussies. Stood up, tears in my eyes, in 2011 to see us win. 'Retaliation' is what MS Dhoni wants. I think we need motivation more than anything else. Atleast the crowds that pay their pockets out, need to see a purpose on the ground if nothing else! I really think we got too happy and comforted by the WC win, thinking this was it! The team and billions supporting it needed nothing else for the rest of their lives. And that has sprouted the denial than defiance, excuses than reasons! I hope they fight back, and hard!

Posted by doubtingthomas on (December 9, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

"it was good while it lasted" - Not that this is the first time I've read this in similarly themed columns over the past two years. Just one victory, and you people would be back as BCCI's PR army. It's over, all teams go through such transformative phases. Maybe in couple of years time, the team will find it self confidence back.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

Part 7 of 8

The other thing that BCCI can do is to increase the frequency of the A tours to South Arica, England and Australia. Virat Kohli's game and confidence went up several notches with his tour to Australia as part of the Emerging Players team.

We, the fans, to play our role in the rebuilding process. We need to shed our blind loyalty to individuals and our devotion to their personal milestones. We need to shift our focus to the team and its long-term results. We need to demand and appreciate commitment, fielding excellence and consistent and match-turning performances. Above all, we need patience. Over the past four years, we have seen the cricketing demise decline or retirement of some of our top cricketers, in Anil Kumble, Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Tendulkar and Zaheer. It may well take another four years before Kohli and Pujara can build us a team that can reach the test summit again.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

Part 6 of 8

The selectors are limited by the pool of talent at hand. This is where BCCI and the Indian government (yes) need to take bold steps of their own. First and foremost, they need to enable talented cricketers from the neighboring countries to immigrate to India with the potential to represent India within a year of the immigration. The prospect of earning millions of dollars in IPL as a talented Indian cricketer should be a strong motive for many foreign cricketers. If Ravindra Jadeja can earn a two million dollar contract, imagine what a Saeed Ajmal or a Mohammed Amir or an Angelo Matthews can command! There is no shame in relying on cricketers fof foreign origin - would England have won the Mumbai test without Kevin Peterson and Monty Panesar? Infusing foreign talent would vastly improve not the pool available to the selectors but ultimately raise the quality of domestic cricket too.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

Part 5 of 8

Virender Sehwag continues to be the team's most dangerous batsman but given that India is rebuilding and with promising openers such as Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay in fine form, Sehwag's aggression and experience become more essential in the middle order. Sehwag should slot into Tendulkar's number four position.

Yuvraj Singh may deserve one more series but the selectors need to consider usig Ravichandran Ashwin as a batting allrounder at the number six slot. This may relieve the pressure on Ashwin to take wickets and make actually result in making him more successful bowler too. Pragyan Ojha would stay as the lone specialist spinner.

A rebuilt Indian test XI in South Africa next year may look like this: Gambhir, Rahane, Pujara, Sehwag, Kohli, Ashwin, Dhoni, Pathan/Aaron, Ishant, Yadav, Ojha.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:56 GMT)

Part 4 of 8

Sachin Tendulkar needs to be bid farewell. The great man's experience may still merit him a place on the team but his aura of untouchability tends to unfairly constrain any captain - let along a young, new one - when it comes to making hard decisions on team selection and batting order. The selectors must sit down with him and require his retirement at the end of the Nagpur test. By Ricky Ponting's definition of "consistent failure", Tendulkar has not delivered since the tour to South Africa and it would not be fair to him or the team to expect him to carry the batting again during the upcoming tour there. Same goes for Zaheer Khan, who too has run out of gas after that tour to South Africa. Varun Aaron, Pankaj Singh and Irfan Pathan are among those who deserve a chance.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

Part 3 of 8

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after starting with victories in his first four tests as the skipper and ultimately leading India to the top of the test ranking, has lost his Midas touch. His tactics on the field lack imagination, he is unable to rouse his troops and he has not managed to spot and back new talent (which Sourav Ganguly did with Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan). Dhoni's batting declined too. Even in the 50-over cricket, his recent innings had dangerously slow starts that provoked open criticism from teammates (such as Gautam Gambhir, in Australia). It is time to for the Indian selectors to take a punt with an intelligent, talented, confident and aggressive young man, much as their South African counterparts did a decade ago with Graeme Smith. For India, that man is Virat Kohli, notwithstanding his slump in the current series. Cheteswara Pujara would make an able deputy. Dhoni would stay on keep, and allowed to rediscover his batting flair.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

Part 2 of 8

To start with, the selectors must use this as an opportunity to take bold steps towards building a test team for the future - much as they did in 2007 with the T20 team, after the debacle in the 50-over World Cup a few months earlier.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:46 GMT)

Part 1 of 8

Great article, Sidharth, drawing our attention to the cycle of fortunes at Eden! As an ardent fan and a close follower of Indian cricket over the last 30 years, I share the bitter disappointment caused by the twin defeats at home, which in a way are more depressing than the eight defeats in England and Australia. So, where does India go from here?

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

Tendulkar still has the highest test avg by any Indian in the history..............1 bad year doesn't make him a bad player if he can score at an outstanding avg of 70 & 80 in 37th & 38th years of life after disastrous 34th &35th years then no wonder he can repeat that feat at 40 &41 as well................His fitness is good. Just that he was a bit out of practice in 2012. Additionally he is still no 1 Indian test batsman on current ICC Rankings.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (December 9, 2012, 8:05 GMT)

I want to hear the next excuse from srinivasan, dhoni and co. Dhoni is indispensable in the team. Also the selectors must be held accountable. What credentials does yuvraj/kholi/ raina have in domestic ranji matches? Sure they are good in ODIs (ofcourse at home) but you need batsmen who can grind the opposition. Even kumble was capable of that. He never threw his wicket away.

And Eden gardens with out laxman was not a joy to watch (again thanks to selectors who gave the ultimatum in NZ series with out even finding the replacements).

Out of Ganguly/Dravid/Laxman we have only one replacement in pujara who is yet to be proven outside.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Boy does that April night in 2011 feel far away... Eden 2001 feels like a generation ago. But between those I guess we have lived through a brilliant decade for indian cricket.

As this article sums up... "it was great while it lasted"

For all those who were calling for Dravid, VVS, and now Sachin to retire, this is reality of life after greatness fades... Be careful what you wish for.

Now for the IPL/Bollywood generation to prove what they are made of... I for one, am not holding my breath... A million twitter followers and a dozen aggro TV commercials, does not a champion make.

Posted by Semoli on (December 9, 2012, 8:01 GMT)

Do ur job 4th estate. This has been waiting to happen for 15 tests. Suddenly critiquing this team is hypocritical. You are paid to do better.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Truly hope that this defeat brings the much needed change that Indian cricket needs. Drop Dhoni, Yuvi & Zaheer from tests. Give a chance to Dinesh, Tiwari & Dinda a chance. And make Veeru a test captain.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

In Last Decade, there were players with great abilities and commitment , like Kumble, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly, apart from Tendulkar, Sehwag. India became No.1 Test team because of the hard work done by those players. Dhoni was so much lucky to get credit of their hardwork, when india became No.1 Team under him. Dhoni is a good captain, not a great captain like Ganguly.. If he can build a good team under this circumstances he can prove himself as a great captain.

Posted by renegademike on (December 9, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

another very significant Test on Eden was the First test of the 93 series between India n England. India under n through Azhar's 182 won that match and went to win the series 3-0. it was the coming of anil kumble who tormented the English right through with due assistance from Raju and chauhan. It began the phase in Indian Cricket where they were almost Invincible at home. Every1 talks about that India started winning under Ganguly, but the process began in 93 under Azhar. although they dint win anything outside but they remained competitive.and it began a phase in Indian Cricket where one thought that they can beat anyside.

Posted by karts83 on (December 9, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

Mr.Monga. Why singling out Ashwin for the defeat ?. The entrie bowling wasn't that good. The very fact that Ashwin averages second on batting list is a testimony that our famed batting ( SACHIN included who you were so eager to defen post that useless 76) is to be blamed. Stop being biased and report things correctly

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 7:35 GMT)

V good article....................Yes India performs well at home only if opposition doesn't have great spinners or against mediocre oppositions Like NZ & WI............India could not win a single home series from Pk bcz PK always had great spinners..............It is very tough to win against ENg SA & AUS. U cannot compare SA AUS & ENG with WI or NZ as SA ENG & WI are world top 3 test sides & WI & NZ are among bottom 3...........................One must accept that Eng has the best side ever to visit sub continent with very balance bowling attack & couple of batsmen hitting purpule patch........Only thing that changed since India's purpule patch in TEST is their coach the rest is same. The coach must identify the minor faults in each batsman's technique & must form a strategy against each of Opposition's Batsman. He seems not doing that.

Posted by SamRoy on (December 9, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

Oh another thing, India's dominance at home started against England in 1992-93 with India thrashing England 3-0. It didn't start in 2001. It started with Azhar, Kumble and Wadekar not with Ganguly and Wright. With Ganguly and Wright, India finally learned to fight away from home.

Posted by DaburMan on (December 9, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

Your article is ridiculous and pointless, if i were your manager, i would have fired you and the person who approved this post. Have been following your posts and none of them made any real sense - 99% of them are to pull readers by hatred.'Ashwin is an offspinner suited more to limited-overs cricket' - what made you think that way ? , blasphemous assumption. It is always easy to point out and critic a player , but looks like you are consistently against the placement of ashwin in the team , atleast thats how we understood from your past posts. Your judgement or assumption or whatever - 'Sport is a lot about denying. About denying your physical limitations, strong opposition, the elements.' is absolutely wrong. Think before you write. And,There was nothing wrong with the side ,except for one attribute that was always missing - patience. Indians go for boundaries and they lose wickets , thats the source of the problem. You score less , then you give yr opponents all the strength to bat

Posted by Praxis on (December 9, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

"The oldest man in the team, going through the worst phase of his own career, is showing half the side how to keep their chin up and field." -I didn't get this part, who was the writer referring to? Anyway, its a very good read.

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (December 9, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

Ashwin story is the Ravi Shastri story and Woorkadhi Raman story. Its not good guys.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

I think since we have lost the last 10 tests out of 11 (meaningful anyway), how about we send sachin and sehwag to open(and bat as positively as they can). Gambhir can bat in the middle order. And its about time we stop giving people in the team preferences in their bowling/batting order, irrespective of their seniority.

Posted by Alkais on (December 9, 2012, 6:56 GMT)

After India lost two tests in a row, there were some wholesale changes. Its time to take some tough decisions. Players who are just filling in the numbers is not required in the team. Ishant,Ashwin are more suited to ODIs. Sehwag,Gambhir should be given ultimatum. Sachin, selectors should tell him this is what we plan - either you retire or be ready to get sacked. Zaheer is past his prime. I think he is playing for the record. New players need to be injected into the team.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 9, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

India have at least avoided being whitewashed at home. I know it's not much but I'm sure that they will be able to make a meal of it.

Posted by SamRoy on (December 9, 2012, 6:37 GMT)

Sid first of all get a grip of reality. How about Zaheer being useless? I said before the series that Ravi Ashwin is India's most talented cricketer and he. Is he a better bowler than Ojha? No, never was. Can he improve as a bowler? Certainly. Is he a classier batsman than Dhoni, Yuvraj, Irfan and Raina? Certainly. He needs more patience as a spinner. Ojha needs an arm ball too. Time to kick useless baggage Yuvraj from test team forever. Also Sachin and Zaheer. Even Sehwag (my all time favourite Indian test batsman) needs to go as his fitness is failing him. Dhoni needs to be dropped. Rahane, Mandeep Singh, Pujara, Kohli (he needs more patience), Rohit, Ashwin (all-rounder), Saha/Karthik, Ojha, Harmeet, Yadav, Awana. I had hopes on Rahul Sharma but he needs to change his Ranji team. He isn't getting any wickets in Mohali. Now make Kohli captain.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 6:37 GMT)

They need to axe Dhoni, show Tendulkar the door with no nostrums about his erstwhile greatness and how he himself will decide when to leave, and get a proper opening pair in place. Everything else will fall into place.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

The Indian Cricket Team have one last hit at Nagpur,to strike back and save themselves from complete humiliation which of course looks less likely. But then after, is that "All hail IPL again?". Its high time these mongers start prioritizing cricket at its purest form and maintain the most important thing in cricket whatever you are specialized in. A Proper Plan of attack and Patience. Not heroism or or with tyranny. Its a team game. If you what a "Wham-Bham-Sham-ThankYou-Man" game, follow the Americans, they have a game that says the same.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

IPL has murdered Indian cricket. R.I.P - 1932-2012

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

Indian Cricket Team should play matches against bangladesh

Posted by Kays789 on (December 9, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

Just goes to show how pathetic this indian team is when an english team returning from a bad series against SA and with zero confidence of playing in the sub-continent can thrash them like this in consecutive test matches. whatever happened to all the talk of revenge and 4-0 and etc? if these aren't the most over-hyped overpaid sportsmen (not just cricket) in the history of sports i would indeed be very surprised. just reward for the kind of bullish fans they have too might i add.

Posted by qasrazakaz on (December 9, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

it's sad that indian cricket is again laughing stock of the cricketing world as it used to bein thepast.There does'nt seem any immediate way of coming out of this hole.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

Atleast in this hour of crisis i wish the writers went slow on the Over the top commentary. Dont deride the indian spirit of the past decade by calling it dominance. Dominance really? Why do you do this to us...

Posted by Sporty-critic on (December 9, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

Its ironic that we Indians keep believing in people who do not have relevant skills to deliver. When we select players for a specific purpose, they do not deliver on that but cover up by performing in another skill set. Once in a while, when it is needed, it would be appreciated. But on a regular basis, when a bowler performs as a batsman, it is not a matter of pride but creates confusion in the minds of the selectors.

At least now, can the selectors sit down and select players on merit and not give in to the whims of a few people who throw their might around. Whatever be their past, the selectors should only select those players who they feel would perform to their potential. Anything else can only be termed as a temporary measure.

Posted by PTtheAxis on (December 9, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

have been saying at cricinfo for a few years that dhoni is not a test player let alone a test captain. results are all for there to see now. thing in india is that everything like a govt job. once you are in there is no taking you out. dhoni has no desire to win and he still carries on. shamelessness & spinelessness is not a very good combination for competing. less said about tendulkar the better.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (December 9, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

The last six words really sum up the mood prevailing at the moment and indicates the hopelessness of the future with regards to India's Test cricket.

Posted by pratit on (December 9, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

Priorities have changed. Nowadays, BCCI president is a 20-20 patron and the owner of an IPL team. Dhoni will still not be dropped and find newer excuses. They will still live in denial as test cricket does not matter to them. All Indian commentators are influenced by the BCCI. They hide the reality. When a foreign commentator points out the flaws Indian fans are "offended" and Shastri starts whining.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 5:41 GMT)

DRAINED. That's the emotion. That this current Indian team consisting of overpaid and overfussed individuals took no pride in playing for the national team.Absolutely no pride. That they depended on past records to come to their rescue.That they were led by an individual who seems to grow richer through endorsements....who could not care less if the national team was brutally dealt with at home.Just because he has the confidence of the BCCI chief no less.Can India plumb lower depths? They can and will under Dhoni and his currnet bunch of cronies.Am I allowed the liberty of picking names? I will take this liberty. Sachin has had political backing for too long.Go Sachin. GO NOW. Dhoni...test cricket is no longer your game.Captaincy is now beyond your understanding.Yuvraj-one day cricket for you.Ashwin...not test cricket level as a bowler.Zahir ....take a bow. Ojha...not every day is a Sunday.Gambhir & Sehwag...on notice.Pujara & Kohli-Indian cricket is in your hands.Take it forward.

Posted by Maui3 on (December 9, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

Sidharth, This is a wonderful article. Yes, 'Team India' formed at Eden in 2001 and this truly seems the end. This team has run its course and there is no place to hide. Having seen only two meaningful team achievements from 1970 to 2000 (WC 1983 and WI/Eng win under Wadekar away from home), the Indian team since 2001 has given lot of joy to their fans. It held its own against the best ever Aus team - home and away and beat just about everyone away from home (Aus, SA were narrow misses), rose to #1 team and won the WC. They deserved the chances they got in the last 1.5 years.. But its time for wholesale changes. Tendulkar deserves to go on his term, but needs to define his end goal. Yuvraj serves no purpose in a test team. Sehwag doesn't have the appetite for big 100s anymore. Fire Fletcher. Zaheer has to go now. Dump Ashwin. Start Afresh: Build around Kohli, Pujara, Yadav and Ojha. Put Sehwag, Ishant, Dhoni on notice. Make Gambhir captain and that might inspire him. Good Luck India.

Posted by Cricthink on (December 9, 2012, 5:39 GMT)

Well said Sidarth. Facts are facts and there are mirrors every where - no place to hide. Gone are the days when India was unbeatable at home in a series that to a 4match full one. There is no need for drastic changes but we need basic, minimum I suppose. For me 1st on the list is Zaheer, Followed by Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and Yuvaraj. You can rest on past glories, it is those present and future that counts. Make the change NOW before the things start to rot

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 5:36 GMT)

Fine article, but it does not mention the biggest denial by the BCCI & Co.- the infection from IPL. In the interest of the Indian cricket team and of public in general, the ICC and BCCI should forever liquidate IPL from our cricketing system. Even India's T20 performance will improve then. And virtual Gods like MSD and SRT should be asked to quit, however politely.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 5:29 GMT)

India Team needs lot of change.... They have to drop yuvraj, kohli, tendulakar, doni

Posted by Noroz on (December 9, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

Team India needs a massive overhaul in their set up. Although I don't think IPL to be the sole culprit behind this debacle but it has definitely contributed towards the downfall of this once great Indian side. Too much of commercilism has spoiled the very essence of the game particularly for team India. Not much has changed as far as talented players are concernd but the attitude has definitely been negatively affected by huge amount of money given to the players in shorter version of the game with little hard work utterly contradicting the more demanding and less rewarding test cricket. Either test cricket has to be made more lucrative or IPLs and BigBashes have to be reduced in terms of quantity to save the great game of cricket.

Posted by n0n0nsense on (December 9, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

Either India's test status should be revoked or they should not be allowed to play against top 8 test teams unless they play longer version cricket with developing teams like Zimbabwe or Afghanistan.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

MSD is unfit as player and captian since 5-0 loss in England, but BCCI continues with him only to get 4-0 loss in Australia and now 1-3 against England in home series. Look at England team, they are young and lots of new faces but they trumped India on turning tracks in their own backyard! Asking for a turner after first Test shows MSD arrogance at the help of his own dismal performance.

If Saurav Ganguly brought Indian team to its pinnacle then MSD is leading the team total disaster. No Indian Captain has the track record of MSD of 9-0! It shows the complete failure, just not captian, team but selectors as well!

Posted by prans397 on (December 9, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

mantra.. first of all drop Gambhir out of the team immediately..his own BIG failures are ignored behind tendulkar failures. Bring in old horse Wasim Jaffer. He is much a better opener than Gambhir..& capable of making big hundreds. Perfect Indian test team..Sehwag, Jaffer, Pujara , Tendulkar, Manoj Tiwary,Ajinkya Rahane, MSD,Ashwin,Ojha, umaesh Yadav, Varun aroon.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 5:04 GMT)

Very poor and shameful performance from India. Well played England, they deserved their win. It's time for the Indian selectors to take some hard decision and revamp the complete test team. MSD has proved that he is not fit to lead the test team. Time to say goodbye to MSD, YS, ST and many others, at least for the test squad. Also, selectors should consider taking Ashwin as specialist batsmen rather than bowler, as he has been pathetic throughout this series. Looks like Angrez have blown Indian poongi!!!

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 5:03 GMT)

Well played England , especially Cook he is simply captain perfect . I wonder though the last 2 wickets adding 88 and England 41/3 in the chase can just give the momentum for India to square the series in Nagpur , lets hope so .

Posted by GreensFan on (December 9, 2012, 4:59 GMT)

well fought back from Ashwin, lesson to other batsmen, i feel it was not india's day today eariler they lost to greens in champion trophy hockey for bronez 3-2. india should look forwoard to, tie the series and batsmen have to play big role.

Posted by Patrick_ on (December 9, 2012, 4:46 GMT)

Seems more like a farewell to the old Indian team (with all the greats retired/about to retire) that won at home and had arguably good record at overseas (before 8-0).

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

The golden era at Eden set in post the match fixing episodes. Now its time for some serious soul searching. Do not expect magic in a day or in a series. It might take a year or two before the team builds back its core and fringes. Many of the pretenders may have to make way to unseen, untested talent. Fortunately there are treasures hidden in the metros,towns and villages . The India's selectors need to just look with clear heads. They owe that much to us. As fans, lets show "Test-match-like" patience.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (December 9, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

Terrific analysis of the current reality. Indian cricket gained some respect in this century due to the stellar efforts of a few good men, but even during the horror show that was the 90's we still managed to win at home. This present overhyped team looks only for excuses to cover its inadequacies and for the sake of Indian cricket a major overhaul is required starting with the captain, who, let's be honest would not get into any other Test side including Bangladesh.

Posted by venkiraj12 on (December 9, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

When was the last time Sidharth Monga had anything good to say about Ashwin (or about Indian players in general) ? Ashwin is just 12 tests old and already he's the fall guy for the Indian losses ? If anything, Ashwin's batting exposes the lack of application from our batsmen on a decent pitch to bat, not the ability of our bowlers to run through England. May be you should try to remove those tinted glasses you're wearing Mr. Monga, once in a while atleast.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 4:14 GMT)

i will be with india...through their tough times...only i will say is change the captain to change the fortunes!!!

Posted by Negma2000 on (December 9, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

"Just imagine, here is a bowler doing better than most of the batsmen in his side and yet not making up for the damage his insipid bowling has caused"...seriously? Sid you can do better. Why dont you compare six Indian batsmen batting average with Ashwin's? OR Why dont you compare Zaheer's or Ishanth's bowling against Ashwin's? Can you quickly check and do a comparison of Ashwin's fastest fifty wickets with of another fastest fifty wickets from SA's Philander. God bless our star worshipped Indian team and selective and targeted reporting.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

You nailed it, Mr Monga. Though it is hard to see things improving till some structural changes are made within Indian cricket.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 3:14 GMT)

India need to find batsmen who can play test cricket. Batsmen who don't play T20 cricket. Batsmen like Pujara. Batsmen who, unlike Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni, have the temperament to bat long innings. Batsmen who, unlike Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni are not tempted to go over the top. As far as the bowling is concerned, India never had the best of the bowling attacks. It was their batting that carried the bowling. Now that the batsmen are failing to put up good scores the bowlers have nowhere to go.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 3:14 GMT)

I completely agree with your views here. I've just recently taken to reading your articles and they're coming out quite good. It's a refreshing viewpoint to explore and you hit the nail on the head more often than not. I'm also of the view that while it is disappointing to experience consecutive whitewashes against England and Australia, where we faltered the most was in overlooking our own shortcomings and turning a blind eye to the obvious factor that we aren't good enough and instead just passing it off as a once (or twice :) and potentially more to come) in a blue moon occurrence brought about by demons living under foreign pitches. We needed to get spanked in our own backyard to figure out what's going wrong with us and there's obvious lessons to be taken from the series. Then again Pujara's demeanor and the obvious improvement in Yadav's bowling , particularly his lengths are thin creaks of sunlight through this extended dark period in Indian cricket.

Posted by IndCricFan2013 on (December 9, 2012, 3:11 GMT)

I do not understand blaming indian bowlers on a flat pitch that aid batting with an application. Even after watching two days of video analysis of Geff Boycott, are you still asking question to the Indian bolwers calling inspid bowling? What you are asking the bowler is a long term thought for their improvement, not the fundamental issue for the 2nd and 3rd test loss. Batsman is the cause. Gambhir, Shewag and Pujara are doing round robin getting run outs, They have not converted their scores in the last 3 innings to bigger ones, so that the middle order can come in and add more. Kohli, Yuvi and Dhoni are playing street cricket. Sachin is playing for 200th test. I do not agree you blaming blowers even a tad bid for the loss.

Posted by Romenevans on (December 9, 2012, 2:57 GMT)

Ashwin is becoming the next "Irfan Pathan"..and then eventually he will confuse himself that is he a batsman or bowler and end up being a mediocre player.

Posted by landl47 on (December 9, 2012, 2:51 GMT)

It's really not that bad for India. Pujara and Kohli look to be promising test players in the making. Yadav and Ojha are very useful bowlers and Ishant Sharma is a pretty good second seamer. Ashwin has all-round credentials and if he isn't the top-flight spinner India were hoping for, he's a better bat than was expected. Gambhir and Dhoni are still in their early thirties and give needed experience in the line-up. That's a solid nucleus and if they can find a couple of batsmen to replace Tendulkar and Sehwag and another front-line spinner, India can grow into a very good side. The more important issue is whether test cricket is given priority in India or whether the BCCI settle for the instant gratification and cash of the IPL. Test cricket is hard work and as this article points out, India seem to be a little short on the effort side at the moment. It's not so long ago that they were #1 and they have the talent to get to the top again.

Posted by Mitcher on (December 9, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

Scathing. You'd like to think the msg would get through. But as I read other articles nothing to do with the Indian team vandalised with comments about how tendulkar is better than bradman and responsible for more miracles than Jesus, I really do wonder whether there's any hope for this deluded cricket community.

Posted by Shafin1987 on (December 9, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

Here we see they didn't learn cricket.....It's been over 80 years they r playing test........still 4-0 in ENG.........4-0 in at home going to lose serie against ENG........Only doing is criticism from some over hyped player shewag............he always thinks how bad is his neighboring country BD playing............but doesn't look at his own team who have the worst bowling attack in the world.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 2:26 GMT)

"...and should have won the World Twenty20 but for five minutes of rain."

Umm are you serious?! Did you forget about a phase of the tournament called the Semi Final and Final?

Posted by Moppa on (December 9, 2012, 2:24 GMT)

I wonder if when the author says "it was good while it lasted", he means the respect, as well as the results. Respect is hard-won and quickly lost. India's combination of poor results and, more disturbingly, lame excuse-making and a lack of fight, means that respect for them as a side is almost gone. I expect that this series will be rock-bottom for India performance wise and they will perform much much better against Australia (my team) early next year, but it will take a new era and a new Ganguly-type figure to regain them the respect they have lost from the cricketing world in the past 18 months.

Posted by Biophysicist on (December 9, 2012, 2:24 GMT)

Mr. Monga: You are very critical on Ashwin, who has at least performed with the bat in the two tests (Mumbai and Kolkata) where most of our batsmen failed. Given his performances in the previous tests (against NZ and before), you could give him a slightly longer rope. On the other hand, you don't say much about the white elephant in the team which is blocking the chances that would have helped in allowing a budding batsman to mature and settle down. If we don't support a youngster like Ajinkya Rahane or Manoj Tiwary in the right time, we might end up losing them for ever! Also, I posted a comment on your article about DENIAL, which has not been published yet. I wonder why?

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 2:21 GMT)

The reality is that if India lose the Kolkata test, it will be 10 out Eleven Tests against a Major Playing Country. Shouldn't the world Cricket fan challenge India's test status.

Posted by akbarbirbal007 on (December 9, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

Frankly if i wr in Mr.Patil shoes straightaway i wld hav dropped dhoni nt 1ly as a capt but as a player also yuvi "the philanthropist" ,zak "the old yak" and bowling Sachin as well as batting sachin

Posted by BravoBravo on (December 9, 2012, 2:11 GMT)

Where IND dominated during those 10 years which Mr. Monga is referring too. IND did not won any series in SL even, and SA and AUS are pretty hot to handle by IND. In those 10 years, IND was most of time the playing with SL, those were certainly torturous matches. Two consecutive white washes were pretty pitiful. "They got rid of the well-earned reputation of being poor traveller". By traveller, which destination author is talking about, IND never won a series in SL within 2 deacdes. What a dribble this article is, once again author is trying to glamorize IND failure in cricket.

Posted by hnlns on (December 9, 2012, 2:03 GMT)

This time around, the pitch at Eden Gardens has been one which has rewarded those put real effort. It has shown that through bowlers like Finn, Anderson, Panesar and Swann. Finn in particular has been fiery with top class pace coupled with reverse swing. From batting point, it has shown that through Cook and Ashwin. It has also proved that those who cannot put in enough effort will be shown up as mediocre and insipid as has been the case of Indian team in general with a couple of exceptions here and there. The amazing way Cook has accumulated runs in this series shows why he was one commonality in England's Ashes win in Australia and the most likely series win here, not forgetting his monumental 294 in Edgbaston not too long ago.

Posted by Ven61 on (December 9, 2012, 1:49 GMT)

Hype masters and spin doctors aside, the genuine fan of test cricket never considered Ashwin as the panacea for what ails our bowling. Those of us who have no axe to grind, and are not given to hype, have been saying that our bowling is among the poorest in the world. Zaheer, whom everyone tries to praise, has not had one 5-for in the past two years when more than a hundred 5-fors have been taken in test cricket.

In the current team there is nobody apart from Sachin and Pujara who have the technique and mindset for test cricket. And Sachin has been losing it lately. And the captain has never really understood test cricket. The media, which essentially created him despite his multitude of shortcomings, must now show him the mirror. But I fear pecuniary interests will come in the way.

Posted by raj_ on (December 9, 2012, 1:43 GMT)

@ Sid Monga - Ashwin seems to be the new punching bag. where is Zaheer & Ishant ? you can axe ashwin and you'd still be in the same hole if not a deeper one. where is the bowling bench strength? who do you suggest should replace Ashwin? Atleast 5(sachin, yuvraj, zaheer dhoni, shewag, gambhir) are in the team 'cos of past expoilts or reasons other than cricket and would not even make it in a Bangladesh B team. atleast Ashwin deserves a spot in the team as the 6th only if the top 5 batsmen showed up to play. the problem is journos like you who will force the selectors to make Ashwin the scapegoat. let any axing begin with the senior-most pro and the captain!!! time to blood in a few from the under 19 team!!!

Posted by fr600 on (December 9, 2012, 1:35 GMT)

India, inclusive, now sets a new standard for minnows.

Posted by joshi85 on (December 9, 2012, 1:23 GMT)

Thank you for mentioning the relevance over here. I still have the fond memories of that match in 2001. I went all the way to my aunt's place to watch the match on TV without informing my parents, and got scolded big time. It was all worth it. Coming back to this situation where India finds itself in, its really hard to believe England could do so well in Indian pitches. Team India's performance is mediocre to say the least. England is more likely to win the series. Hoping to see some miracle from the team in the last test atleast to level the series. But if they are able to do that, the flip side, we will forget whatever happened in Mumbai and Kolkata which will not do good for the team in long term. I want them to win, but for India's test team's betterment want them to loose so that they can set the house in order, take some tough decisions, and make the players and also the bosses accountable. Miss u Rahul, Laxman and Kumble.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 1:18 GMT)

Awesome piece. Indias problems are Zaheer khan is not the same bowler he used to be.So that's a huge blow.Then tendulkar is a walking wicket lately.Batting is not as strong as it used to be.It's better to get rid of dead woods like Yuvraj, Zaheer, Ishant, Gambhir.

Posted by here2rock on (December 9, 2012, 1:17 GMT)

Too many tried,, tested and failed cricketers in this Indian line up. Blood youth in the side, please no Raina and Rohit again!

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 1:10 GMT)

One of the most REAL article over Indian Cricket in recent times...SIGH.. author is Sid Monga ...Not Mr.srinivsan ...

Posted by Humdingers on (December 9, 2012, 0:57 GMT)

As an Indian fan (questionable after this loathsome effort) this is painful to watch. But hopefully with a series loss (yes England will win the nest test) change will be forced. I can't see a test team prospering with Gambir, Yuvraj, Zaheer and Dhoni in the squad. The all rounder needs to be in there to bolster the bowling. Play Ashwin as an all rounder. Or Pathan depending on the pitch. SRT is another post all together!

Posted by sriram.lakshmanan on (December 9, 2012, 0:50 GMT)

Though Sid Monga has called out others, he seems to have a grouse against Ashwin. While I agree that his bowling has been insipid, Ashwin needs time to develop. Yes he was the fastest to 50 wickets but apart from bowling to Aussies in Australia, this is his next big assignment. He can only improve from here. As to the Indian team, bang on - until they are humble enough to recognize their faults, this is a lost cause.

Posted by willsrustynuts on (December 9, 2012, 0:27 GMT)

I do not recognise the team you describe at all. Yes they are awful but I dont remember them ever being good travellers or truly the Worlds best.

Posted by   on (December 9, 2012, 0:22 GMT)

India must go back to the basics and invest in proper Test players rather than ODI/T20 wonders. Let's give chances to top batsmen and bowlers who in Ranji cricket and India-A tours. Players like Tendulkar and Dravid were Test stars long before they established themselves in ODIs. We should also be picking such Test quality players. Ajit Agarkar was a good ODI bowler but pathetic at Tests. Yet we have learnt nothing from that experience and still keep picking ODI/T20 stars in Tests. Why do selectors keep picking players bereft of fitness? Why do they keep picking Yuvraj/Zaheer when only half fit? And let's also pick good fielders- by that I don't mean people who dive all around the field but those who take the catches that come their way.

We must use this chance to inculcate an excellent team structure. Look at South Africa- they used to have a history of choking but now they are No.1 and they seize every little chance they get. Time for our Dark Knights to Rise!

Posted by Nampally on (December 9, 2012, 0:20 GMT)

Sid, What is "Height of Insanity"? When the Indian Team gets totally outclassed in Mumbai Test yet the Selectors go with exactly the same Team for Kolkatta Test. How can anyone with a trace of common sense justify such an irrational selection? That is the main reason for India's unbeaten record at Kolkatta got shattered. Can players justify their selection after the team set a record of <8 runs by 7 guys in Mumbai- Second innings? Even in Kolkatta test,3 middle order bats scored less than 9 runs in the second innings when every batsman needed to score at least 40 runs just to save the match!. How embarassing it is when a bowler going at #8 scores 83 with the aid of #s 10 & 11? This is like a Club level batsmen trying to play Test Cricket. Who is Accountable for this when even BCCI President washes his hands off it. BCCI, the Selectors & the Players "have no where to hide as there are mirrors every where" - as you rightly say. I doubt very nuch if the XI changes for NagpurTest. JAI HO.

Posted by Dhushan on (December 9, 2012, 0:08 GMT)

I love this. Fabulous read. I love the hints aimed at the BCCI as well as the ailing Indian cricketers who don't want to retire. I admire how outspoken yet honest this article it. As much as I want England to win this match, it isn't over yet. Hopefully England will be having lunch in the team hotel & not at the ground.

Posted by spinkingKK on (December 8, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

India no longer have culcutta specialists like Azharudin and VVS Laxman. May be that is the reason. Just joking. India just haven't got the talent in their team and the selectors just don't care. The plight of this Indian team is just because of the selectors. The turning point was when Vengsarkar's selection panel was replaced by the Srikanth's. Vengsarkar was doing all the right thing by dropping Ganguly and thereby giving strong message to the other oldies. But, Srikanth undone it and stopped the team from changing for another 3-4 years.

Posted by mathematicised on (December 8, 2012, 23:05 GMT)

Siddharth, I remember having tears in my eyes after each one of the three tests of that seminal series in 2000-01. Though the emotions were contrasting, with disappointment in Mumbai changing into disbelief in Kolkata and unbridled elation in Chennai. I cry today for a very different reason. It hurts to see what has become of our game. How could it have come to this? Weren't we world champions just last year? Didn't we play brilliantly in South Africa just two years ago? To ask how is really naive. We know why things are the way they are. But, whose to say if things will get better? One can only hope that the losses will have a positive impact. I, for one, do. But, there is a very real and scary possibility that Test cricket will die a silent death in India. Along with it will go quality cricket and the game we all love. I celebrate the past. Bemoan the present. Fear for the future.

Posted by raj871985 on (December 8, 2012, 22:49 GMT)

indian team has to eliminate yuvraj n sehwag n sachin n zaheer....yuvaraj n sehwag is pure 1 day players.... sachin's time over already...this is time fr him to take rest at home...zaheer is now nothing to describe....already out of form since world cup.....

Posted by street_smart on (December 8, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

Dhoni was reaping the benefit which was sought by Ganguly. The "Team India" concept was brought in by Ganguly. Now the team is almost demolished in the hand of Dhoni ' & Srinivasan nexus. Hope Dhoni had guts to step down after the series else god save this team

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (December 8, 2012, 22:33 GMT)

By far the best cricket writer. You sum up the pain that we Indian fans feel but that we tend to hide behind outward bravado.

Posted by dock_haul on (December 8, 2012, 22:28 GMT)

mirror mirror tell me i am still the same old Sachin who used to terrorize the opposition" and yes the mirror said keep going and you will defy age and all your critics wrong . so i will continue playing till every one will stay in chorus that i am the best , i am the best " this is the state of mind of the little master and sorry to say of the Indian team administration

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 21:58 GMT)

Pak beat England in dhubai because they have highly world class spinners like saeed ajmal and abdu Rehman unlike average spinners of india.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 8, 2012, 21:56 GMT)

The 2000 decade was surely the best for Indian test cricket. From 2001 onwards, built primarily on arguably the strongest middle order the world had ever seen in the form of dravid, srt, vvs and even ganguly, India routinely challenged teams in their own backyard. 2 tours to aus resulted in a 1-1 and a 1-2 loss. 2 tours to eng resulted in a 1-1 and 1-0 win. 2 tours to sa resulted in a 1-2 loss and a 1-1 draw (the best result of the lot considering steyn & co were in full flow then). India also recorded their first test wins and series win in pak in 2004 (2-1), 1-0 series wins in nz and in wi after 30-odd years, and a 1-2 and 1-1 result in sl. Sad to see that so much of what had been achieved seems like a very distant goal with the current side. Worst of all would be losing at home. Maybe things would turn around in a couple of years when the transition is complete and the team is more settled.

Posted by tests_the_best on (December 8, 2012, 21:43 GMT)

Well-written article and to expand on that, a brief history of Indian cricket. Prior to 1970, India was a B-grade side similar to present-day b'desh routinely getting thrashed by eng, aus & wi both home & away with parity being maintained only against pak & nz. All of that changed in 1971 which was the turning point of indian cricket. Sunil Gavaskar debuted that year (cricinfo player profile - "the self-actualization of indian cricket happened under him") and india went on to record historic 1-0 wins in wi and in eng . From there onto the late 80s, under him and a galaxy of other stars like Vengsarkar,Amarnath,Kapil,Shastri,4 spinners etc Ind performed quite creditably both home and away with results like a 1-2 loss in wi, 2-3 loss in aus, 1-1 in aus & even a 2-0 victory in eng in the mid-80s. All of that changed in the 90s where save a 1-0 win in sl, ind didn't win a single test, let alone series outside the subcontinent. As the article mentions,the 2001 kolkata test changed all that.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

It is clear to see the heartbreak in your article Mr.Monga, and as a true fan rightly so. Your previous article on the state of denial accurately identified the problem. Our cricketers are becoming like politicians, this problem of denial is a social problem right now. As we come to terms with under 6% growth rates we realize how much of the growth was a bubble.

Similarly, Indian bowling was always masked under the batting prowess, which as it now crumbles, has left everyone bitterly exposed. The problem is probably at the grassroot level where kids need to feel more excited about bowling rather than making superstars out of batting. We do not need another Tendulkar, we need another Srinath or even a Prasad.

As a true fan, we can only hope that we can learn something from Australia, who have ensured that their fall was shorter than the heights they reached. For a team which lost a set of players like they did within 3 years, they have done remarkably well to have challenged even SA!

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 8, 2012, 21:24 GMT)

This battle of the minnows is incredibly boring to watch. Two average teams slogging it out on dead pitches. No wonder the crowds arent there.

Posted by luvcricket_new_gen on (December 8, 2012, 21:18 GMT)

Curtains on Test cricket for India. It would take at least 3-5 years to get back to business. Sachin, plz quit, you have been great and have had an outstanding career. There is no one to replace you but let the new gen toil. Zaheer, Dhoni to be axed and get a young dynamic coach. These would gets us started!

Posted by ToTellUTheTruth on (December 8, 2012, 21:13 GMT)

Nice. Very heart felt. This Indian team, "can't bowl, can't bat, can't field" if their lives depend on it. What a shameful year it has been.

Posted by AjaySridharan on (December 8, 2012, 20:52 GMT)

How I wish those in the commentary box could strap on their pads and walk into middle...Ganguly, Laxman and Dravid - the true magicians of Eden Gardens. Isn't this reminiscent of modern India? - celebrating mediocrity, too quick to chest-thump with scant respect for that graceful delayed sense of gratification, not believing in meticulous planning and even more meticulous execution, not taking tough decisions when it needs to be taken, hoping for someone else to come to the rescue, being in self-denial and eventually slipping into oblivion. This scarily reflects the current political and demographic climate too - lot of promise but no results to show for. I'll save my tears for the day when Sachin retires, and after that I'll turn away, and say, "it was good while it lasted".

On the other hand, Ashwin's bowling has been unthreatening, but there's no denying that he deserves a place in the side as a genuine all rounder ahead of Yuvraj!

Posted by free_swinger on (December 8, 2012, 20:51 GMT)

At least now, the topic of one once great retiring has been rendered irrelevant. Only the most myopic amongst us can say that it is not yet time for at least a few in the side to seriously reconsider their places and the selectors start earning their money with the others.. A more professional setup will help surely..

Posted by BANNERJEES on (December 8, 2012, 20:31 GMT)

It is not the loss but the knowledge that you do not have the quality is what pains. This team is nowhere near the one that fought back against the Australians at Eden or matched the South Africans shot by shot, ball by ball.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (December 8, 2012, 20:31 GMT)

......Play Shahbaz Nadeem, Harmeet Singh, Unmukt Chand, Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Karthick, etc rather than keep losing with the "experienced" stalwarts who have brought much shame already to the nation.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 20:29 GMT)

I do hope each of those 16 in the side read this article.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (December 8, 2012, 20:27 GMT)

Even now, the selectors can salvage the series with some bold decisions. Foremost among them being axing the non-performing players (even if it means changing half the side). With the batsmen giving spineless displays, it is time for the selectors to show some spine. Question is, do they even have a spine??? All this non-sense talk of experience has been going on for too long. If experience could do what youth could not, then India should have won 9 out of 10 Tests she has played against Aus & Eng in the recent past (rather than the other way round). Even in the series being played currently, it would be eye-opening if the selectors could look at the averages of the so called experienced & inexperienced players & decide to go forward accordingly. Honourable way out would be for Sachin to fake an injury so that he is "rested" to make way for Manoj Tiwary; Zaheer to be replaced by Dinda, Pankaj Singh or anyone else (doesn't really matter, none are good enough for Tests at home).....

Posted by larahooperinc on (December 8, 2012, 20:18 GMT)

i feel sorry for india but i agree the writer.indian selectors must now look beyond sentiment and plan towards the next few years.i am a west indies supporter and i know the results of poor planning.ask those that are to retire to retire,(tendulkar & zaheer)remove those that are not test material(yuraj & raina)and build with the proven and promising from your domestic competitions.i wish indian cricket the best in future.

Posted by baskar_guha on (December 8, 2012, 20:04 GMT)

Every team goes through peaks and valleys in any sport. The key is to recognize and accept that and set expectations accordingly. India is rebuilding and I am sure in a year or two they will find enough of the players who will give it glory for the next decade.

Posted by itsthewayuplay on (December 8, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

Is Sehwag really saying that if India's batsmen had been patient then the match position would be different? Then why have they not shown any patience? It sounds all to familiar? Incompetence covered with daft excuses. These are the words of a man who is guaranteed the side. Failure is not only tolerated but celebrated - 'we rely on the openers to give us a good start' and Sehwag and Gambhir persisted with until they eventually perform. Cook has shown that solid and reliable wins you more matches rather than the 1 in 20 performances by Sehwag who will cost you 19 games for 1 innings where it will click.

Posted by VivSingh on (December 8, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

Very eloquently written and so painful to read.

Posted by g2311 on (December 8, 2012, 19:40 GMT)

Funny, between all of of this not one word about Sachin's performance or rather the lack of it. Infact anything the author has found out a way to praise him but forgot to mention that he is among the lowest run scorers in the series.

Posted by suman2 on (December 8, 2012, 19:40 GMT)

The earth is no longer under this team. Wake up Srini-Dhoni! Indians still value test cricket.

Posted by xylo on (December 8, 2012, 19:36 GMT)

The plain truth is that this is a rebuilding side. The fans are expecting too much from the side. On the other side, the team representatives also pile up pressure on themselves by calling themselves world beaters and not acknowledging that they are rebuilding. One thing that this team is missing is application - Ashwin showed it today, but in hindsight, his primary job was to bowl. All parties involved need to realize that some wars will be lost for the battle to be won. But, expecting the team to show dedication is not over bounds. Dhoni emphasizes dedication over winning/losing in other formats of the game, but not sure what is happening in tests. If that can be figured out, and the right personnel are in place, the present might look grey, but the future will look bright. A work-in-progress example here is Australia. They might have lost the series at home, and are yet figuring out their batting lineup, but their good days are not far away.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 19:28 GMT)

Well put! Indians are too stuck up on personalities and records to recognise what's staring them in their face. Sachin should have retired at least a year ago, Zak has also seen his best days, Ashwin is not a test bowler, Dhoni is over worked. I think it's about time that the selectors bite the bullet and take the tough decisions. We might lose a few tests but it would be worth it.

Posted by   on (December 8, 2012, 19:23 GMT)

Beautiful... A great one. I really enjoyed the way you ended it. It was a beautiful piece last evening. This evening, I am forced to comment.

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