By Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network
London, Aug 12: If you have been following the ongoing Test series between hosts England and India, the verdict is out and clear. Despite being an Indian optimist, there is nothing one can do to save Team India. The pathetic performance has continued from the lst Test itself and as we end day two of the third Test, England are all set to dethrone India from the top position of Test cricket in the world and take their well deserved place. Neither riots nor rain are going to help India !
Such has been the dominance of England skipper Strauss and his boys that India has looked like a disjointed lot to say the least. Neither their famous batting nor bowling has clicked and England have charged ahead in unstoppable fashion.
Even before the 3rd Test gets into day 3, the result is very much clear for everyone to see. Replying to India’s meager total of 224 runs, England have already taken a lead of 95 runs with good wickets in hand. An imposing total will make the Indians will fold quickly like earlier and give England a historic series win. This, unless, the Indian batsmen try and fight the situation and prolong the inevitable defeat. But certain defeat is on the cards for India making it a 3-0 series winning verdict for England.
The star of England’s batting has been Alistair Cook who has feasted on the pathetic bowling display of India. Remaining unbeaten on 182 with 26 fours Cook registered his 19th century in Test cricket. This was his fourth century this year overall after a poor start in the current series with India earlier. Except for hard working Praveen Kumar to an extent, none of the other bowlers have made any breakthrough. One expected Amit Mishra to run riot with his leg spin but to no avail. Mishra’s misery with the ball continued with repeated no balls. Skipper Strauss was unlucky to be bowled off a no ball by Amit Mishra on 87 when he looked set for a century. Despite losing his opening partner and skipper Strauss, Bell and Pietersen, Cook demonstrated his class as an opener and smashed the Indian bowlers with no respect.
Pietersen who looked set for a century fell to Praveen Kumar on 63 superb runs that included 9 fours and a solitary six. England look like going to post a mammoth total which the Indians will not bother to overcome. There is still plenty of batting to come with Bopara and Prior waiting along with other talented tail enders. Overnight batsman Morgan also is looking for a big personal score. With England batting last on this wicket, the tourists have no hope whatsoever of getting a result in their favour. The only consolation for the Indians will be spare time to do some more shopping and sight seeing for the newcomers in the squad.
The crowd must have surely expected a better fight from the reputed Indian side. However, the weakness against top quality pace attack from England has turned the results in favour of the hosts. Even seasoned batsmen like Laxman and Tendulkar have not got going in full steam which has tilted the advantage in favour of England.
The match will now reach its logical conclusion with an innings rout possible for the Indians when they start their second innings. Unless the senior batsmen make their presence felt, England will jump on the opportunity to clinch the match and thereby the series. This will also send England higher up in the World Test rankings and bring India down from the top position. There is nothing skipper Dhoni can do about the pending results in the third Test at Edgbaston now. Except for rain which could come unexpectedly and save India, there is no other saviour India can look to including the much talked about Virender Sehwag.
The remaining members of the team like Munaf Patel, Virhat Kohli, R.P. Singh, Pragyan Ojha and others must now warm up and expect a chance to play in the final test since the seasoned Indian stars have failed to deliver in all the Tests played so far.
Once England take the winning lead in the series, there will nothing else to prove for skipper Strauss who showed the cricketing world his ability to mould his side into a winning unit. He did this in the past with wins in the Ashes series twice against Australia and demonstrated that captains can also win matches with proper handling of their team. Strauss will now be the proud England captain to take them to the top of the Test world rankings.
One has to congratulate England on a splendid performance although the Indian supporters may say again grudgingly that it is a bit too early. But haven’t you heard that ‘well begun is half done’? Give credit where it is due.
Congrats England and skipper Strauss for a job well done !