December 23, 2012
Most said, England would flounder, others said England would be decimated; they might put up a fight the optimists said, but India was going to prevail in the end everyone believed. The only question in most cricket follower's minds prior to the commencement of the test series was the score line with which India would win.
England responded to these pressing questions by coming a month in advance and playing three warm up games to acclimatize themselves with the Indian conditions. The Indian selectors countered that by giving them exposure to part-time spin at best during the warm ups. Succeeding in India was improbable, but not impossible England believed.
The clamor only grew louder once the first test was done and dusted, but little did anyone know what lay in store for the rest of the series. Itís often said well begun is always half done, however India squandered the early advantage they earned themselves after the first test and in hindsight the blushes.
India was plain and simply outclassed from that point on. The spinners would be all over the English batsmen, the famed Indian batting would pile up the runs against the listless English bowling attack were preconceived conclusions possibly every Indian cricket follower had drawn. If the Indian captain expected to whitewash the English side by asking for turning tracks, he was sadly mistaken. On the contrary he was given a taste of his own medicine.
What transpired post the first test was for everyone to see. India on the back foot session after session, English spinners bowling better than the Indian spinners, English fast bowlers exploiting reverse swing to perfection, English batsmen countered the Indian bowlers as though they were brought up playing on these low, slow tracks which spun square, the fielding of the two sides like chalk and cheese. The result? India beaten in their own backward. The fortress that they had guarded for the past 28 years finally broken into.
Was it complacency or was it over-confidence? Was it form or was it sheer better quality of English cricket? Was it a case of England bringing their best performance onto the field or was it just a case of India having a bad series? Your guess would only be as good as mine.
After the England and Australia humiliation, India most probably assumed that all India had to do was turn up onto the field in Indian conditions and they would be guaranteed a win. However, this time around this theory was staunchly dis proven. The long 28 year jinx of not winning a test series in India against India was finally broken by a touring team.
Is the Indian test team still in transition, the stalwarts having retired? Would it be fair to blame the captain? The captain is only as good as his team isnít he? Is it fair to play the blame game at all or give the youngsters a little more time to blossom to full potential? Is it finally time to pull down the curtains on the "senior" cricketers who has served the nation for years now? Are India no more at least tigers at home? Are wholesale changes warranted? Do we have replacements to fill the boots of these great servants of the game? Do you have a captain to replace the current one? Million dollar questions which have left each cricket lover pondering over. It remains to be seen what decisions would be taken in the days to follow. The BCCI has always managed to surprise us with their decisions, irrespective the outcome hard calls will have to be taken.
Call it resilience, call it strength of character, call it whatever you may, in the end you must doff your hat to England and say; "Well played England! You deserve every bit of accolade you have received!" The ashes may be the ultimate frontier for every Englishman, but I would be very surprised if anyone who has played and followed English cricket does not put this series win at par with an Ashes triumph. Well done England! Hats Off!