India lost the Test, the series and No. 1 ranking at Edgbaston. England beat India by an Innings and 242 runs. India were 224 in the first Innings and 244 in the second Innings. This is the worst defeat since Lord’s 1974. England declared their Innings 710/7. India’s batting was average, bowling was not good enough and dropped catches made it worse. The Test was over within four days. Virender Sehwag returned to Tests to be out to first ball in both Innings, in first Innings after UDRS appeal. Hopes that he can turn things around were dashed. For India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the top scorer in both Innings, 77 and 74 not out. India’s No. 1 ranking lasted 20 months.
After many years India lost three Tests in a row. With every Test the margin of defeat increased. India lost the first Test at Lord’s by 196 runs, the second at Trent Bridge by 319 runs and the third at Edgbaston by an Innings and 242 runs. However in the second Test bowlers took 20 wickets. The series that was dubbed as the champions versus the challengers proved one-sided.
What went wrong? England were a better side, a young side, they had home advantage, their bowlers were outstanding, but that does not explain the margins of defeat. Some blame IPL. Some blame Test players, especially bowlers, not playing first class matches in India. Some blame lack of preparation for the series. That is not the reason for the loss in third Test. Some say there is too much cricket and cricketers are tired. That is not the reason as cricketers who want rest are given rest. Injury to Zaheer Khan is mentioned as a reason but our bowling should not have been dependent on one bowler. There were other bowlers and sometimes they did well. Our fielding was bad and dropped catches cost matches. In the third Test India were a dejected and demoralised side as England piled up runs, there was no will to fight and players went through motions.
Some feel Gary Kirsten’s absence as coach has made the difference for India and Duncan Fletcher has failed. How much difference a coach makes is difficult to say. Under John Wright India were runners up in World Cup. Under Greg Chappell for sometime India were successful and then it was disaster. Under Gary Kirsten India achieved No. 1 ranking in Tests and won ODI World Cup. Duncan Fletcher was the coach for West Indies series and India won the ODIs 3-2 and Tests 1-0. Players who missed West Indies series did not do well in England.
BCCI is blamed for having its priorities wrong. BCCI is dominated by politicians and businessmen. Cricketers are unable to win elections. If defeats continue for India there will be no sponsors, Test, ODI and T20 matches will be less and Ranji Trophy matches will have importance.
Dethroned and disgraced, heroes to zeroes, were some of the expressions used to describe the loss. Some compared India’s bowling to county side. Some wondered how India became No. 1. India played well and that is why they became No. 1. They played bad and lost it.
There is one Test left. India can win that Test or draw it and avoid 0-4 defeat and salvage some pride.