With two back-to-back fighting centuries in this series, Rahul Dravid (L) has been the lone warrior in India's spineless batting line-up © Getty Images
With two back-to-back fighting centuries in this series, Rahul Dravid (L) has been the lone warrior in India’s spineless batting line-up © Getty Images


By Madan Mohan


The defence of the top ranking in Test cricket couldn’t have gone more awry for India. India have copped injuries and poor form before not to learn from it. Therefore, offering it as a justification cannot wash. Besides, everybody plays a lot of international cricket and hops in and out of aeroplanes. So, India simply ought to have been ready, ought to have learnt from mistakes made in the past. To have been so depleted and so below par for a series as important as a tour of the challenger’s den smacks of complacency. Perhaps, beating the West Indies did to India what beating Australia did to Freddie’s Brits?


It has been common knowledge that India’s bowling line-up lacks bite. It has been common knowledge that India do not give themselves enough time to acclimatize to vastly different conditions abroad. It has been common knowledge also that India play too much cricket and their players, especially their bowlers, run the risk of injury. They have managed to cheat fate for a long time and, incredibly, retain the No.1 spot for nearly two years.


But poor preparation was bound to catch up with them someday. One only wishes the consequences would not have been quite so humiliating for this much-celebrated team. The three grand old statesmen of Indian cricket deserved a better send off from England than what has been in store for them thus far. But even they, Rahul Dravid excepted, would have to be faulted for not quite pulling their weight thus far.


When India famously squared the series in Australia in 2003-04, Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag all got among the runs at different stages of the tour. Laxman and Tendulkar have only managed three half centuries between them and that is not enough support for Dravid’s exemplary efforts.


Without Zaheer Khan, the bowling line-up was predictably crippled and mostly ineffective. The magic of Perth 2008 would not be emulated at Trent Bridge though India briefly promised to do so on Day One before they let England slip away. And unlike Perth, India also missed at Nottingham the stellar presence of Anil Kumble who had then plugged the leak at one end and picked wickets at crucial junctures. There was also no Sydney-gate in the run-up to Trent Bridge to rile the Indians and get them to unleash the war cry.


Perhaps, with the anticipated return of Virender Sehwag to the squad, there may yet be a repeat of that stupendous feat at Perth. Perhaps, India may yet salvage pride or even square the series against all odds. But, to a ‘survivor’ of the Azhar days, these first two Test matches have been more reminiscent of the drubbing India got at the hands of Australia in 2000 than the run up to Perth 2008. India had fought bravely at Sydney then and had been hard done by some poor umpiring. They had only themselves to blame this time and nowhere to hide, much like Down Under in 2000.


The difference between 2000 and now, though, is nobody at all gave India a chance whatsoever then in Australia and the result was all too predictable – if disappointing. This summer, the weight of expectations and thrill of anticipation will make this debacle-in-progress even harder to stomach. Fanatics and detractors alike have been left disappointed and underwhelmed by India.


(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake.)