"Trying hard." If that’s the excuse India give after a spineless performance at the Eden Gardens today, the response would be "It's not showing".
If your name is Gautam Gambhir, you don't flash at a ball bowled at the ninth stump outside off. If you're India's future named Virat Kohli, driving away from the body shows you in a very poor light. And if you are captain of India, you need to show it by putting up a fight on the field rather than doing it off the field with curators.
All was going India's way until they pressed the panic button after lunch on Saturday – day four of the third Test against England at the Eden Gardens. The bowlers polished the last four England wickets for just 14 runs in the morning. Gambhir and Virender Sehwag came out counter-attacking and put Monty Panesar in his place with an 86-run unbroken stand to lunch.
England lead was cut down to 111 and India had all 10 wickets in the bag while eating lunch. That's when lightning struck. The scoreboard operator was kept busy, not in the runs column but the wickets. Not that the English bowlers had something special in lunch, but it seemed the Indian batsmen, except R Ashwin, didn't eat the right food.
Sehwag, Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni – the elitist of names in Test cricket – fell like a pack of cards. But what hurt was their lack of application, which made England bowlers look doubly dangerous on a track Ashwin later displayed was still good to bat on.
A sure-shot innings embarrassment was single-handedly turned on its head by Ashwin's 83* that not only helped India erase the deficit but also take the game into the fifth day with India – 239 for 9 – leading by 32. Ashwin – who was given a life by Matt Prior by way of a missed stumping – showed there are no demons in the track.
Clearly, India is not showing enough keenness for Test cricket. And Kolkata surrender has taken Indian cricket to the point where an overhaul is the only option left.