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 Lordâ€™s 1974. England declared their Innings 710/7. Indiaâ€™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. Indiaâ€™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 Lordâ€™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 Kirstenâ€™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 Indiaâ€™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.
India lost the Lordâ€™s Test by 196 runs on 25/7/2011. It was 2000th Test and 100th Test between England and India. Before the Test India ranked No. 1 and England No. 3. It was the first Test of a four Tests series.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni had won the toss and should have elected to bat. Electing to field was a mistake. Many years ago Mohammed Azharuddin had won the toss and had elected to bat. In that Test Graham Gooch scored 333 runs in the first Innings and 123 runs in the second Innings and became the first person to score a triple century and single century in the same Test and that was a new world record. Before that there were some who had scored a double century and single century in the same Test. Sunil Gavaskar, Greg Chappell and Lawrence Rowe were among them.
Some things went wrong for India. After getting two wickets Zaheer Khan was out of the field. On the second day Dhoni bowled eight overs. Rahul Dravid kept wickets. In the first over the field umpire had ruled Kevin Pietersen out. Kevin Pietersen made use of UDRS and commentators said he was out and third umpire ruled him not out. He went on to make 202 not out. Kapil Dev criticized Dhoni for bowling. If there had been no UDRS the result would have been different. Dhoni could have got more wickets. Once in Pakistan Dhoni had bowled one over. His long hair was liked by Pervez Musharraf. That time Rahul Dravid was the captain.
England declared 474/8. India were all out for 286. That was 188 runs lead for England.
Sachin Tendulkar got fever. Gautam Gambhir was hit on the elbow.
On the fourth day Ishant Sharma had taken three quick wickets had before lunch and England were 62/5. After lunch Dhoni did not ask him to bowl and England consolidated. When Ishant Sharma was brought back and he took a wicket it was 107/6. After that no wicket fell and England declared 269/6. To win India had to make 458 runs or play for a draw. It was 80/1 at the end of the day.
On the fifth day the options before India were draw or defeat. India were all out for 261.
India failed to take 20 wickets in this Test. It took 14 wickets. To win a Test a team must be able to take 20 wickets. Zaheer Khan had rest after IPL. On the first day of the first Test he was out of action.
This is not a humiliating defeat. In 1974 India had done worst. In the second Test India were all out for 42 and lost the Test by an Innings and 265 runs. In the third Test England lost two wickets and won the Test by an Innings and 78 runs.
There is a feeling that cricketers prefer club over country. Gautam Gambhir playing IPL matches when he had an injury and opting out of West Indies tour is one instance. As Dean Jones put it was a choice between 11 crores for IPL and 2 crores for West Indies tour. It is said that as per contract Gautam Gambhir would have got the full amount of 11 crores for IPL if he had played five matches. He did not have to play other matches. However the contract could have something in fine print that required Gautam Gambhir to play all matches to get the full amount. When Sri Lanka wanted its players to return early for practice for England tour they were told that payments to players will be held up. Lasit Malinga retired from Test cricket instead of giving up IPL.
BCCI owns IPL. Franchisees pay money to BCCI and players. They want to recover their money. Franchisees drop players whom they do not want. BCCI wants money and does not care about players getting medals for country and did not send a team to Asian Games.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh are not in ODI team for West Indies tour and some of them will miss Tests. Zaheer Khan did not ask for rest. BCCI has rested him. Some feel India is sending its B team to West Indies.
Making a choice between club and country is limited to few players. For those who have played many Tests and ODIs and are sure of their place in the team it does not mean much playing for the country. Players who are tired are given rest. Some players are in ODI team but not in Test team and vice versa. Players who play both formats ask for rest. Players who play one format donâ€™t ask for rest. Players of ODI team are also in T20 team.
If players get more money for playing for the country than playing for club they will opt for country.
Cricketers play for money and they are not hesitant about it. When the team won the world cup, BCCI gave one crore rupees each to players. BCCI was not obliged to give. But cricketers demanded five crore rupees each which was a surprise. The demand was justified by senior cricketers saying that only top players benefit and future is uncertain. When everyone is given the same amount it is wrong to say only top players benefit. All know future is uncertain. BCCI again gave one crore rupees each to players.
Cricketers today make more money than ever before. Besides money from cricket they make money from endorsement of various products. If a cricketer is presented with the choice of receiving Padma Shree from the president of India or earning one crore rupees by shooting for an ad film and he chooses to do the ad film there is nothing strange about it.
TRPs for IPL 4 were lower than any previous edition. If franchisees find IPL a loss-making venture they will not pay huge sums to cricketers and the problem of choosing between club and country will disappear.