India has been the undisputed world top team over recent years, but in this, the second test match played in England, they looked lacklustre and jaded as a team. True, they have some serious injury problems with about 3 key players of their usual team at the moment. But, despite having had a clear upper hand over England on the first day (who, having been put into bat, were 120 or so for 8), India lost this game in less than 4 days and by over 300 runs. In their last innings, only the great Tendulkar offered much resistance to the English bowlers who played a keen and agressive game. On the other hand, the Indian bowling was erratic and their fielding looked pretty sloppy for a team at this level of international cricket.
Kevin Pietersen tackles the bowling in style
Having been clearly dominated by India in the first innings, England went on to bat with flair and spirit all down the batting order in their second innings, despite falures by both openers, putting up a massive total of 554 runs, and so leaving India with over 400 runs to win and almost 2 days to do so. The English victory, by the margin of 319 runs and inside 4 days, is the largest victory in any test by a team that was lead in the first innings. This is some indication of the determined spirit shown by the English players in this game, but is perhaps also a reflection on the lack of depth of the Indian bowling in this test, as the English batsmen scored heavily down to number 8.
Against the English seamers, only the great Tendulkar offred some form of resistance, playing a stylish (as always) 38 but finding no suuport from his colleagues. I think the man's face in this photograph shows it all.
One of the secondary features of this game, but one which will probably go down in criketing history, was the very honourable decision made by the Indian captain, Dhoni, to relinquish an appeal for run out that had been bizarrely accorded by the umpire just prior to the tea break on day 3, giving Cook as run out after play had apparently been suspended. The details are beside the point, but the replay I saw showed the fielder, who has initially stopped the ball just before the boundary, then knee the ball onto the boundary marker before throwing it back to the wicket-keeper. To me it looked like a four. Anyway a dubious situation and the Indian captain honourably decided to allow Cook to come back to the crease following the tea break and a request from Strauss, his English counterpart. That is cricket, and congratulations to India for maintaining such a spirit in what is now a very professional game.
The next two games should be very interesting.