India have been ruthless in the ongoing series against England    IANS
India have been ruthless in the ongoing series against England IANS

For past many years, dark clouds of uncertainty and fear loomed all over India whenever they played against England. The nightmares of 2011 and 2012-13, wherein India disintegrated for an embarrassing defeat at home, kept haunting, and perhaps prevented them to play with clear minds, let alone breathe easy. The win at Lord s in 2014 signalled a change, but India s annihilation in the remainder of the series exhibited their poor psychological state. However, India have finally managed to end the misery, and in fact, have turned the tables in such a manner that England find themselves looking for some respite, which in all likeliness, they will receive only when the final Test is over.

In their last three series against India, England displayed what it was being ruthless. England never took the foot off the gas pedal, and kept striking on India right till the end. India kept taking the blows, but could not challenge England s authority for various reasons. But times have changed. England returned to India fancying yet another fruitful outing, but they ran into a man determined to inflict change. Virat Kohli hammered England out of the contest, and marshalled his troops so admirably that his counterpart, a far more experienced leader, looks outclassed.

It is only a shame that England have turned up as a directionless mob on this tour. Almost everything, barring the discovery of Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings, has gone haywire. Alastair Cook resembles a clueless leader; he looked like drifting away every time India threw a challenge. England revel in taking catches, even the toughest ones. But on this tour, it seems that England have spilled more than what they have grabbed.

FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs England, 5th test at Chennai

England s batting was always going to be tested to the hilt, and not surprisingly, it has disintegrated too. No team can ever produce young batsmen without backing him adequately and testing him in toughest of conditions, but England are swimming against the traditional current. Ben Duckett, a batsman regarded for scoring heavily, was dropped because of his struggles against off-spin. Gary Ballance did not even get any chance, which again does not bode well for future if these are the young men England would stick to.

The last unless England throw up something else embarrassing act came from unexpected quarters. James Anderson, who claimed to have been mentally scarred after his alleged altercation with Ravindra Jadeja in the previous series, made certain comments which stand true but were delivered at the wrong time. Anderson wants to see how much Kohli has improved in conditions that may test him amply, like they did in England. While Anderson s curiosity is absolutely justified, the timing of it was horribly wrong.

Anderson s comments would have looked pragmatic had he delivered them close to India s tour of England 2018, and not now, especially when Kohli has scored 640 runs in four Tests and there is one more game to go. Why will Kohli not use these comments to fire himself up?

In fact, there will be no respite for England in the ODIs with Kohli remaining in the scene. He is a monster in limited-overs cricket, and England have had a very little experience of facing Kohli in the shorter formats. Kohli is a modern-day master, and England may find nothing that has changed when they return to India after a 25-day long break for Christmas.

But there is one more Test left in the series. Where exactly does England stand if they have to avoid a 0-4 defeat? How well have England prepared to avoid their eighth Test defeat in 2016? This has to be one of the worst years for a powerhouse that keeps Test cricket closest to the heart compared to other formats.

Cook may not have won three Tests on the trot since the India series in 2014, but having already suffered three defeats in this series, is he ready to avoid the fourth?

If England lose the Chennai Test, Cook will be the most defeated England captain in history.

Every series provide something for teams to take away. What England will have is a shambolic state; Cook s uncertain future as captain, lack of batting depth, lack of quality spinners who are not really close to what is desired, and frequently injured set of fast bowlers who have delivered many Test wins in the past.

England may find an excuse in missing the pair of Anderson and Stuart Broad for majority of the series, but a good team in sports always has strong bench strength ready to take over.

Cook may or may not stay as captain. Broad will return and Anderson looks just about okay to go back home and start taking wickets. But what will change for certain is the perception of this Indian team, which has showcased sheer ruthlessness and insatiable hunger to keep pushing for melioration.

It is safe to say that after mere four Tests, England have lost all the psychological impact which they created on India over last three series. The Indians no more wake up dreading what will happen on the cricket field, instead, there is an excitation to pummel England into submission every single day. Not that Indians are revelling in England s poor state, but they are not missing any opportunity to have a go at their opponents who in the past had shown some unkindness.

Tim Bresnan asked the Indians in 2011 to return home if they wanted to keep hands in their pockets in the cold English weather while fielding. Life on the road can be tough; but after Bresnan s scathing comment, Nasser Hussain s donkey remark on dropped catches provided ugliest of memories.

Neither any Indian so far has asked his struggling opponents to return home if there was any unwillingness to compete, nor has anyone made any outrageous remarks on England, who have gone spiralling downwards from playing proper cricket to poor . However incompetent, Indians have paid respect to their opponents and have treated every game with similar tenacity, however easy the task has been.

But it is not the case that Indians have just gone about their job quietly. They have pointed out flaws in England, and their observations are profound as far as cricket is concerned. Emotional frenzy has been restricted in celebrating centuries and wickets, not while addressing the media. From Kohli s questions on England s lack of intent to Parthiv Patel s assessment of English spinners, Indians have presented strong case of being gentlemen even though their opposition has fallen on its knees.

England have lacked intent, which has been proven with their frequent changes in team selection, approach while batting and plans with the ball. England spinners are talented, but if they fail to adjust to conditions, do not study and implement what their predecessors did, failure in imminent. Lastly, if England drop innumerable catches, there is hardly any scope for success.

India have rather been clinical in approach, undeterred and unsatisfied with what they have achieved. These are still early days for a complete assessment of a young team which faltered overseas in its first trip together. But whenever India travel next, they promise better show only because their intent is to play to win, to improve.

India s string of wins has certainly robbed England off the advantage they enjoyed so far. The next time they will face Mohammed Shami at home, England will remember his ability to hurt with the bouncers. England will remember the brutal accuracy of the Indian spinners irrespective of the assistance from pitches which has not allowed their batsmen to flourish. The gap between bat and pads which resides in techniques of many English batsmen can be exposed on any kind of wickets; Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will not need conducive pitches for that.

And England will never forget the mountain of runs Kohli piled up.

The Chennai Test presents India one more opportunity to stretch the psychological advantage over England. India must take this chance to pummel England one more time, enjoy the break, and return in January to solidify their stand once again.