Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Pataudi Trophy - Review

I remember with how much eagerness and anticipation I had written this preview. And how wrong was I? There was a section with a man-for-man comparison stating how equally matched the 2 teams were on paper (Alas as it turned out, it was only on paper). In fact we got hammered man-for-man.
In the end it turned out to be a contest between England against Rahul Dravid & Praveen Kumar. England were an efficient machine, with even the replacements also slotting in seamlessly. India on the other hand hand key components falling apart, getting damaged and replaced by Chinese made imitations. Rahul Dravid did build his Wall, but the other batsmen built tunnels under it. Praveen Kumar ran in all the time, holding one end as a stock bowler while there was no one at the other end to strike through. India just fell apart. There have been debacles in the past, England getting whitewashed in Ashes of 2006-07. But never before has such a long-anticipated top of the table clash turned so one-sided.
For England, there was someone or the other to keep knocking down the Indians if they even thought off getting up. It was simple, Excellent no-nonsense batting, sustained bowling and some decent all-round fielding. They executed it beautifully and ran India ragged.
For India, there were patches of brilliance like Dravid's batting, Ishant's spell at Lords, opening 2 days at Trent Bridge. Otherwise it was an abject surrender. There were cries heard that the team was under-prepared and needed more warm-up games. This may have been true but the way the English victory margins kept increasing through the series, it would have seemed England were the ones under-prepared at Lords.
Key moments for the series. Zaheer pulling his hamstring on Day 1 at Lords, Prior & Broad's counterattack when they were in trouble in the 2nd innings at Lords again. In Trent Bridge, India had England down for the count at Tea on the first 2 days and they managed to recover ground through Broad with both bat and ball. After that it was just a one-way road. Gautam Gambhir's on-field injuries meant a random batting order every time.
Other aspect highlighted has been the failings of the Hotspot. Technology certainly isn't fool-proof. But in trying to make technology fool-proof, the governing bodies have lost sight of the original idea of DRS, which was to remove umpiring howlers like Harbhajan given out lbw of a inside edge at Trent Bridge and not the marginal too-close-to-call situations like Dravid's at The Oval. Here due to some sheer pigheadedness of BCCI, ICC and other governing bodies, we have got such farcial scenario of different rules applicable in different places for the same game.
In the end, all I can say is England were bloody good, like they were in Australia earlier this year. I was cheering for them during the Ashes but couldn't watch them pummel my Indian team like this. Michael Vaughan's jokes which I enjoyed with relish during the Ashes were now too painful to even read.
India were under-prepared, exhausted, injured unit. Players were hopeless in the English conditions against an efficient English cricketing machine. And simply outmatched and outclassed.
Only good thing which came out was that the Indian fan learned to appreciate Rahul Dravid once again.
Also spare a thought for Duncan Fletcher, England coach for seven years and current Indian coach. His long term aim of making England the world's best test side has finally come true but at his own expense.

P.S. At least we did something about the Cricket Spirit while recalling Ian Bell, the Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice.

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