Sunil Gavaskar said it was next to impossible for India to save the third Test against England at the Rose Bowl, after they went to stumps tottering at 112/4, chasing 445 for an improbable victory. (Day 4 Highlights)
India are currently ahead 1-0 in the five-match series, thanks to a dramatic win at Lord's, but face a real danger of losing the lead, after losing Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli on Wednesday. Gavaskar felt the lack of partnerships from the top-order meant their chances of saving the blushes in this match were next to nil.
"It's very difficult for India to save this Test match now. Someone will have to play an outstanding innings. They needed partnerships. If their top order had given them partnerships, then maybe they would have had a chance," Gavaskar told NDTV.
"For example, if India had gone to bed with one or even two wickets, then you could have said that a couple of stands on the final day could have taken them to safety. I can't really see India saving this Test. If it happens, I will be happy but it really looks tough."
Since 2000, India have been set targets of over 400 in 12 Tests and they lost as many 10, drawing two. The numbers are not very encouraging for the tourists.
Gavaskar also questioned the technique and temperament of some of the Indian batsmen. Barring Murali Vijay at the top and Ajinkya Rahane down the order, most of the batsmen have struggled in England and the former captain felt they were jabbing at the ball instead of waiting for it to come to them. (Related: BCCI to Contest Jadeja Fine)
Dhawan scratched around for 37 and was, to an extent, guilty in calling Vijay for a risky signal, which cost him his wicket. Gavaskar said there was no run in it and there was no need to risk the single: "There was no need for a risky single at that stage and Vijay was not even prepared for it. Dhawan is not in the best of form and he got an awkward delivery which cocked up, so he wanted to head over to the non-striker's end.
"Dhawan has been jabbing at the ball, much like Pujara and Kohli. In England, you need to wait for the ball to come to you, instead of jabbing at it. Kohli should take a look at the video of Sachin Tendulkar's innings of 241 against Australia in Sydney in 2007 to try and correct his technique."
Kohli himself has urged his teammates to show some character, but he will need to look at his own game as the series progresses. Meanwhile, Thursday could well be the most crucial day of the series yet, and if India leave Southampton with their lead intact, England could be a crestfallen lot when the fourth match gets underway.