It is a battle only if both teams fight!
It is only called a battle if both opposing forces put all their skill and resources in inflicting damage on the other. Instead, what was seen in the Mumbai Test match was a contrasting case of focus and clueless lethargy.
It is simple to praise a team after a win. It is easier still to write and report blasting a team after it has tasted defeat. What has emerged from India's defeat here and in most of their defeats in the recent past is that sense of giving up before the final ball has been bowled. To a fan like this writer, dipping form can be understood but drooping shoulders cannot.
Indian batsmen were pretty clueless through most parts of the Mumbai Test. Enough has been said about their aptitude to play on tracks that are anything but lifeless. To see these world-class batsmen turn lifeless however is a sight that hurts the sensibilities to a great extent. Same with the spinners. There was turn on the track. Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann can vouch for it. Putting aside possible reasons why the likes of Ashwin, Ojha and Harbhajan - all three quite lethal in their abilities - could not extract spin, was it not a total waste to see the lack of innovation on their part?
Sunil Gavaskar has been lamenting since Day 2 of the Mumbai Test that the Indian spinners need to mix it up, they need to bring the England batsman forward. On NDTV's analysis on each day of the Mumbai Test, the former cricketer has been suggesting how Panesar-Swann made the Indians come forward and make mistakes and how the Indians are failing to do the same. While surely it is not expected that the tired bowlers switch to this (or any other) channel for wise words of wisdom from reputed former cricketers, was there not a coach, a bowling coach and a support staff that should have been suggesting pretty much the same thing. Leave all aside, are they themselves not class-acts to know what was missing from their gameplay.
When a person plays a first-person videogame and he dies in it, he more often than not hits the replay button and ensures he does not meet with the same fate. In Test cricket, that replay button is better known as the 2nd innings. India's second innings was even more miserable that the first.
So while Swann said a lot of hard-work remained after Day 2's play despite Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook batting with intent, the Indians seemed to have thrown in the towel. Which gets us to the 'did you know' of Monday? Did you know that the Indian players, reportedly, came to the ground only about an hour before the match was to start and that they reportedly entered the playing field at 8:45?
One can question Sachin's age, Dhoni's plans, Fletcher's role and Harbhajan's form all day long but the fact remains that regardless of an impending win or a defeat, an entire team can be judged by whether it had drooping shoulders or dirty trousers at the end of a day's play.
Story first published on: Tuesday, 27 November 2012 00:23 IST