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World Number one, but can't win!

By: Clayton Murzello    
Several aspects can be attributed to India's defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge yesterday. But if skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni ever gets to hear this, his feeling of despair could get worse: Yesterday's 319-run loss is their heaviest margin of defeat in 101 Tests against England.

So much for the World No 1 Test ranking!
In fact, England's batting legend Geoff Boycott reckoned on Test Match Special that the visitors played like the No 8 or 9 side. That means New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Boycott is given to hyperbole, but that a World No 1 succumbed in 47.4 overs (making 158 in pursuit of a 478-run target) is something that is near-unbelievable given Dhoni's men have shown that they have the bottle for a fight on their road to No 1.


Air-borne: Yuvraj Singh struggles against the short stuff.
Pic/ Bipin Patel


No matter how much they would like to flick it to the ropes as it were, India's weakness to the rising ball is REAL. Opening batsman Abhinav Mukund, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh must find a way to play the rising deliveries better although Yuvraj is not that much of a short ball dummy as he is made out to be in the English media. Raina, who batted wilfully in the second innings at Lord's for 78, would be a nervous wreck if he watches the replay of how he got out -- trying to pull a ball that Tim Bresnan pitched outside off stump which lands up in the hands of substitute fielder Elstone at fine leg.

On Day One of this Test, India had England on a stony floor at 124 for eight. In Robin Hood town, England needed a hero. They got well more than one whereas India never got near sighting one. 

Despite the shellacking, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said in his post-match chat that, "we could have done slightly better." Dhoni sure has a way of under-playing things. He has also been guilty of under-performing. Yesterday, he chose a wrong ball to leave and ended up being leg before wicket to Bresnan for a duck. What a shame he couldn't improve on his first innings' five.

Sachin Tendulkar was batting fluently, positively and dangerously from the opposition's point of view. At 56, he padded up to James Anderson, who has good reason to boast about the Indian master being his bunny -- seven times since the 2006 Test in Mumbai.

It would have been a travesty had Tendulkar got his 100th international century in the face of a crushing defeat here. In sport, some things are just meant to be.

The Indian cricket board cannot blame the players alone. The chieftains have not given enough impetus to the traditional form of the game which their players -- and all credit to them -- topped. The solitary game before the first Test didn't help too. Don't crucify the workers if the bosses are casual (in the real sense of the term) workers themselves.

And if the BCCI, with all their wealth, can find a way of improving its team's body language when the opposition is tearing them apart, they must pay any price. The opposition just wait for their opposition to drop their shoulders. England sure did and collared India.

India have to get REAL if they want to deny England from running away with Test cricket's top spot: After Day Two, they couldn't bat, bowl and field.

To think that India won't lose another Test in this four-Test battle sounds very improbable. They need an Edge in Edgbaston and Oomph at the Oval. But before that, the Nerve at Northampton, to ensure that the blues of Nottingham are well and truly deposited in the river Trent.
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