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.
Indians hoped that India will do well in Trent Bridge Test. India will win and it will be 1-1.
On Day 1 England were all out 221. At one time they were 124/8. India were 24/1. On Day 2 India were all out 288, a lead of 67 runs. At one time they were 267/4. England were 24/1. On Day 3 Indiaâ€™s bowling was not successful. England dominated. The day began with Vaseline controversy. Till tea break India had the chance of winning or drawing the Test. After Ian Bell run-out controversy it was downhill for India. England finished the day 441/6, a lead of 374 runs. On that day England scored 417 runs on a single day, highest since 1954. After tea break India did not have the will to fight. Something was seriously wrong. It seems there was a split in the team and many players were demoralised. On day 4 England were all out 544. India were all out 158 in 47.4 overs and lost the Test by 319 runs. Sachin Tendulkar was the top scorer with 56. Harbhajan Singh scored 46, Rahul Dravid 6, V. V. S. Laxman 4, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 0. The match was over within four days.
Ian Bell had a reprieve during World Cup some months back. That time he and everyone else knew he was out but he continued as umpire had not given him out. That time it was question of rules and there was no question of spirit of the game. After that incident UDRS rule changed for World Cup.
What went wrong? Batting was supposed to become more difficult every day. How is that even English tail enders batted well and Indians failed? India went into the series as No. 1 team. After two consecutive Test defeats that ranking is in doubt. Dhoni said our bowlers were tired and our batsmen were unable to live up to the challenge. His own form is a concern. Kapil Dev said out bowlers donâ€™t play Ranji or three day matches. They play one day or T20 matches. Hence they are unable to bowl long spells.
India have to win the remaining two Tests to draw the series and retain No. 1 ranking. No team can remain No. 1 for ever but India lost the Lordâ€™s Test and performed badly in Trent Bridge Test. Excuses will not do. Players get injured and their absence should not be the reason as others take their place. Some say missing the West Indies tour was the reason for poor performance of some players. Sunil Gavaskar had said that those who want rest and do not want to go to West Indies should be given permanent rest. Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan had missed the tour. Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan got injured at Lordâ€™s and were out of Trent Bridge Test. Yuvraj Singh who replaced Gautam Gambhir could have been sent to open batting. Some blame BCCIâ€™s refusal to have UDRS for LBW decisions as reason for Indiaâ€™s defeat as Harbhajan Singh was wrongly given out and some English batsmen were not given out LBW.
After the Test when asked about Ian Bellâ€™s return Dhoni said it was not about rule or spirit of the game but about feeling good. They did not feel good about the way he was out. Really? In that case the players who did not feel good should not be in the team. If all players did not feel good the whole team should be back in India and another team should be sent. In 2004 BJP campaigned on feel good factor and it lost the election.
The series had a sideshow of one ad featuring Dhoni making fun of an ad featuring Harbhajan Singh. Then another ad featuring Gautam Gambhir endorsing the product Harbhajan Singh endorsed.
Before the Test there was also a controversy about Indian cricketers not attending the reception by Indian High Commissioner and attending Dhoniâ€™s charity auction. BCCI said there was communication gap. When Mohinder Singh Gill was sports minister he had derecognised BCCI as a national sports organisation. It was not proper for Indian High Commissioner to invite a team that is not sent by a recognised national sports organisation. Once the players did not attend the reception there was no need to go public about it and the matter should have been closed. There is supposed to be another reception once the players return to London. Now that the players have done badly there may not be much enthusiasm to meet them.
It is possible for India to win the remaining two Tests and level the series. I hope they will.