By Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network - Sports
Edgbaston, Aug 13: Life for the Indians in the 3rd Test at Edgbaston continues to be tough and unbearable. With their hands in the pocket presumably due to the cold winds blowing around, our boys seem to have taken the easier route of letting the England batsman doing the scoring and piling up the runs.
When play ended on day 3 of the Test which is going England’s way, overnight opener Alistair Cook enjoyed his comfortable stay at the crease. From his personal score of 182 runs overnight he went on to make 294 invaluable runs with 33 fours. In fact, skipper Strauss wanted Cook to go past 300 runs and delayed the declaration before Cook fell giving a catch to Raina off the bowling of Ishant Sharma’s only wicket in the innings late in the evening. Cook went past his earlier best of unbeaten 235 runs against Australia in November last.
As play began on day 3 of the Test, Cook and Morgan continued scoring freely. Eoin Morgan contributed 104 runs with 11 hits to the boundary for the team’s kitty. With only 3 wickets down for England, there was a bit of respite for the Indians when there were light showers just before lunch time. But once the players were back on the field, runs flowed crisply from both Cook and Morgan controlling the game nicely for England. With excellent batting conditions and friendly bowling from the tourists, the England batsmen kept the scorer busy.
This apart, there was generous help coming from veteran Rahul Dravid who left his safe pair of hands elsewhere and was on the field with ‘butter fingers’ to drop two silly catches. He dropped both Bell and Morgan taking his tally of dropped catches to 5 in the series. Interestingly, Dravid holds the record for the highest number of catches in Tests !
There was some success for India as England tried to notch up quick runs late in the evening with the intention of declaring early and lost wickets in the process. Morgan left with a well struck 104 runs with 11 hits to the boundary with the team total at 596 runs. Bopara and Prior perished quickly falling to Mishra and the score read 613 for 6 wickets. Bresnan scored freely for an unbeaten half century before Cook’s dismissal giving England a mammoth lead of 486 runs with England’s score at 710 for 7 wickets declared.
England had a pleasant surprise when India started their second innings with opener Virender Sehwag ending with a ‘golden pair’ of ducks in the Test when he was dismissed with no score in the very first over. With 2 more full days left, one expects Strauss to skittle out the Indians by the end of the day for yet another convincing win and take a series winning 3-0 lead. The English bowlers will be gearing up to shatter the stumps and start the celebrations by the evening if one believes the spirit of the English pacers. Bresnan, Anderson and Broad are brimming with super confidence and the champagne will be ready since the series victory is not far away. One should not be surprised if the Indian team too folds up quickly by the end of the fourth day of the Test.
For England skipper Strauss there cannot be another happier occasion than seeing his team take the top position in the World Test rankings. He has smartly guided the ship and got into the leadership position after emphatic series wins against other leading teams including Australia, Sri Lanka and now India. Apart from shining with the bat as an opener, he has marshalled his resources cleverly and ensuring victory for his team.
Gone are the olden days when England appeared to be strong on paper but poor on the field. Despite past performers like Flintoff, Nasser Hussain, Atherton, Giles, Vaughan and others the fluency of wins was not clearly evident then. With the arrival of Strauss at the helm and the help of coach Andy Flower everything has fallen in place for the England side. A healthy pack of top quality batsmen and bowlers means that there are so many reserve players who are fighting for each and every place in the team. Match winning bowler Bresnan is in the team because of injury to another star bowler Tremlett, Ravi Bopara has found a place because of Jonathan Trott being out due to a shoulder injury. This augurs well for England who will now ensure that they remain at the top of the world Test rankings at least for a reasonable time.
For India and skipper Dhoni it will be one sad trip to England where nothing went right at least in the Test matches. New coach Duncan Fletcher will have to find ways and means to taste victory sooner than later. Except for Dravid, all the seniors in the team will quickly forget the tour for their pathetic show. Tendulkar has been made to wait to record his hundredth century in Tests by England.
After the fourth Test at the Kia Oval, the shorter form of the matches will start. One only hopes that India will manage to reverse the fortunes by outshining their hosts in those encounters and take some comfort despite the drubbing in the Test series.
Commenting on the third Test at Edgbaston former England opener Geoff Boycott quite rightly said that the Test match looked like a charity match with Indian players eager to finish the match quickly and looking disinterested most of the time when they were on the field.
Cricket is a great game which can bring the high and mighty crashing down within no time. To give a classic example, the so called God of cricket Sachin Tendulkar is still struggling to make an impact in the current Test series in England. How the much acclaimed Virender Sehwag has crashed with a ‘golden pair of ducks’ in the very first match he played ! One has to believe that it is the turn of India now to get back into winning ways and show that they are still a force to reckon with. A little re shuffle in the squad and quick ‘bye’ to the veterans should bring back India to the top of the world sooner than later. With new blood injected, one can hope for a bright new show from Team India. There are so many youngsters ‘waiting in the wings’ to get into the Indian team.