Team India's fall from grace may have come as a surprise to many, but frankly speaking, the signs were ominous. India's 20-month reign as the Numero Uno Test side ended at Edgbaston on Saturday as they were replaced by a determined England outfit at the top. A host of factors contributed to the downfall of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team. Here are a few...
Lack of tour games
The team's preparation was far from ideal. With some of the senior players having skipped the West Indies trip before this one, having just one warm-up game was never going to be enough. As a result, players like Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and a few others never got adequate match practice ahead of such a high-octane tour.
Zaheer injury drama
Zaheer Khan suffered an injury in the first Test on July 21 at Lord's and a replacement was announced only on August 7. Captain Dhoni had assured Zaheer's return for the next Test in Nottingham. But just a couple of days before the Nottingham Test, it was made public that Zaheer was out of the remainder of the series as he needed a surgery on the ankle. Not having cover for the left-arm pacer was foolish. Suddenly, the selectors named Rudra Pratap Singh as substitute a couple of days before the third Test at Edgbaston. Had the replacement been named earlier, RP would have reached England sometime in the middle of the second Test.
Bhajji, Yuvi out
This was another case of how watertight our cricket administration is. When Harbhajan Singh was at the receiving end for some toothless bowling, the think-tank suddenly announced that he would also miss the rest of the series due to an abdominal injury. Also, Yuvraj Singh suddenly suffered an injury to his left hand and was also ruled out of the series. No explanations here too.
Dhoni's ordinary show
All talk about Dhoni not being a natural wicketkeeper were put to rest when he consistently won us games - be it with the bat or behind the stumps - and got India to the top. But here, the man with the midas touch got it wrong in all departments - wicketkeeping, batting and even field placings. The team's brittle batting, shoddy bowling and atrocious fielding probably dented the skipper's self-confidence leading to a dip in his performance.
Viru rushed in
Virender Sehwag had not played at the competitive level after the Indian Premier League-IV but was straightaway pushed into opening mode against the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan. Not having played a competitive match in the last two months resulted in the swashbuckling batsman ending up with an embarrassing King Pair.
Short but not sweet
Dealing with short-pitched stuff was never India's forte. And this tour again exposed the chinks in the armoury. The likes of Suresh Raina, Abhinav Mukund and even Yuvraj struggled against the rising ball.
Sachin's 100th ton hype
It's only in India that individual landmarks over-shadow team feats. Before this tour, the fact that India would be defending its No 1 tag took the backseat, and Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international century took centrestage. The media's role is questionable here.