A wakeup call for India
The loss in the Oneday series should galvanise the Indian team to lift its game for the Test matches against England.
India’s players now know exactly why England is the No.1 team in the Oneday rankings of the International Cricket Council. The manner in which England won the final two games after having got a drubbing in the first was truly remarkable. The batsmen who were blown away by Kuldeep Yadav’s wrist spin in the first match came back strongly to counter not just him but also the other wrist spinner, the righthanded Yuzvendra Chahal. Both these spinners have choked up the runs and taken wickets in the middle overs in recent games and so made it easy for India to defend even small totals. However England — Joe Root in particular — batted exceedingly well to win both games comfortably and give India a rude awakening. Root seemed to have a point to prove to those who were questioning his place in the limited overs team and having been dropped from the last Twenty20 international must have stung him, too.
It’s not just the failure of the spinners but also that of its seamers that will have the Indian think tank worried. Sure, the weather was more Indian than English, so there wasn’t much help for the seamers. If the next summer is also like this, then India will have its task cut out in the ICC World Cup. There is also the issue with the openers and the No.4 and 5 positions, though it’s not as worrisome as the bowling issues, but it’s still got to be sorted out before next year.
Then there was Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s batting in the Oneday games that India lost. When he came in to bat, the situation was tough but not impossible especially with his famed powers of big hitting. However, after Virat Kohli got out, the load fell squarely on Dhoni, and he just wasn’t able to make any headway. The hard shots he played went straight to the fielders, and with some good bowling by both the English spinners in particular, he was simply tapping the ball away. The mind can sometimes play on an individual and a feeling of hopelessness starts to creep in and that prevents logical and common sense thinking. Much as the flesh is willing, the spirit is weak. Seeing him bat at Lord’s took my mind back to my most infamous innings at the same venue. This is not an attempt to compare the two innings, but just to give an idea and understanding of how the mind can immobilise clear thinking. Dhoni has more shot options than I ever did and also the strength to hit the ball deep into the stands, but watching him bat gave the feeling that as much as he wanted to accelerate, his mind wasn’t helping him to do so.
That is the reason to say temperament separates the men from the boys. Hopefully, the iconic Dhoni won’t be asked to explain his batting as much as I had been asked to, for every player can have a horrible day mentally and play in a manner that is hard to