The English summer was obviously a heartbreaker for every Indian cricket fan out there. A tale of disappointment and dissatisfaction which raised fingers loaded with questions piercing like darting arrows. The situation was serious and the retirement of the two elites- Dravid and Laxman, left the Indian batting line-up with a crooked back. The emptiness of Tendulkar’s finesse was felt even more and his tag of being the savior was all washed up further dampening his already fading chances of continuing with respect.
We all grabbed the module of patience and went through it. The payback series is something every dedicated Indiancricket fan was waiting for. Our hopes were kindled once again when India spifflicated (or so we thought) the English team’s hopes of further extending their demolition of Indian cricket. We won the first test in style and reiterated the fact that home conditions are a boon indeed. But then the next two test matches, we were simply balled over by the magnificent comeback by Cook and his men. The Indian spin brigade was enervated by the ruthless English incursion. We lost two test matches in a row, a record no home team would be proud of. The fact that we were simply outclassed by our opponents in every aspect of the game, further reddened our already dull faces.
We come to Nagpur with high hopes. After being knocked down and out at our fortress Eden Gardens, the Indian cricket fans are expecting a revival. Nagpur offers a low and slow pitch which seems to be troubling batsmen with orthodox shots in their bags. Any sign of impatience is met with a dismissal. This is a pitch where Indians can hope to comeback and that too in style. To be honest, the pitch is dead. The haunting uneven and definitely low bounce troubled the English batsmen and Ishant was able to make inroads into what India feels will be their ‘get-some-respect’ win. With Pietersen leading the English batting, Indian spinners did a good job in restricting the English batsmen and thus availing the gifts of patient bowling.
Although this was a Thursday, still the crowds were not as ripe as expected. The stadium fell to the silence of a few murmurs and sounds of rejoice even as the wickets fell. After being doomed to disappointment, the Indian fans seem to be giving weight to the argument that test cricket, is surely dying a slow death. The coming weekend will decide how the crowds are going to treat test cricket as well as the Indian cricket team. Carefully placing these matches on weekends was done to make sure that the crowds poured in. But the results in Ahmedabad and Mumbai have ensured that the fans of the game stick to their TV sets rather than making the trip to the stadium.
The curator of the pitch at Nagpur had said that the track will respond to spin bowling from day two. With what we saw today, I don’t think there’s anything for the batsmen on this pitch. India needs to dismiss England before they reach the more than enough figure of 300 and add some more pressure to the already clambering Indian batting order. KP’s knock of 73 will make all the difference in this first innings score of England. The ongoing partnership between Prior and debutante Root can help England push past 350 which will seal the win for them in this test. We expect Pujara and Tendulkar to provide India with some much needed runs but only after the openers have done their job and provided a strong foundation. More than anything else, India should try and build small partnerships. Even partnerships of fifties will take India to a score of 400 without a doubt. The potential needs a calling and if we do dismiss England by lunch tomorrow, the Indian batting stalwarts will have to produce more than a rabbit out of their hats. Contributions from Jadeja and our very own Ashwin in the form of those irritating 60-70 runs partnerships will help India get a much needed confident lead in this fourth and final test.