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India have forgotten how to fight


Jamie Alter,Cricketnext.com
Jan 06, 2012 at 12:25pm IST

In case anyone missed the hubris, India still consider themselves the No. 2 ranked Test team in the world. It is a precarious claim, but after the past two days – including nearly six sessions when India managed just one wicket while conceding 622 runs – it should be condemned as absurd.

Following on from the 4-0 whitewash in England, India's list of overseas woes continued to leave its unflattering mucous trail behind. After their bowlers allowed South Africa score 620 for 4 at Centurion last December and England 710 for 7 at Edgbaston in August, this was India's most insipid effort in the field.

They started the day 291 runs behind Australia and slipped further behind every hour. Like they had done all through the England series, and against South Africa at Centurion and New Zealand in Napier before that, India just hung around waiting for Australia to declare.

India have forgotten how to fight

Virender Sehwag leaves the field after being dismissed by Australia's Ben Hilfenhaus on day three of the second cricket Test at the SCG. (AFP)

What was disappointing for India as the Australians pummeled ahead was not that Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey hit boundaries, but that the boundaries were smashed to every corner. Clarke scored 148 runs on the off side, 181 on the leg. Hussey 60 on the off side, 90 to the on side. Though wickets weren't coming, India could have still stemmed the bleeding by bowling on one side of the wicket, but no bowler seemed capable. For the first time in an India shirt Umesh Yadav, who went wicketless for 24 overs while conceding runs at more than five an over, looked like what he is: a 24-year-old rookie with three Tests to his credit bowling in foreign conditions.

On Wednesday, R Ashwin had been in a particularly irritable mood at the end-of-day press conference. "Get off our backs, you lot" was the gist of his response to India's miserable day in the field. Ashwin didn't make excuses for India's abject performance, but his admission that talk of a whitewash was the "biggest detriment" to the team was flimsy to say the least.

In England, when they were hammered 4-0, India could offer the excuse that they had lost several players to injury. But what now? They have all their batsmen back as well as their strike bowler and a spinner who came into the series with 22 wickets in three Tests, not to mention a century in his previous innings. The facts are bare: the batting has failed miserably and the bowlers, bar a couple spells in Melbourne, have been flat. The 468-run deficit they faced when they walked out to bat a second time at the SCG was the third highest when India had opted to bat first in a Test. Tellingly, the three highest leads India have conceded have all come since December 2010. Enough said.

Yes, teams lose. Yes, batsmen go through slumps. Unfortunately for India, the record books will not consider extenuating state of affairs. This series has had shades of India's tour of Australia in 1999-00 – no notable Indian innings, meek surrenders to fast bowling, and long periods in the field when the players had thrown in the towel in the face of dominant batsmen racking up huge partnerships. Just as that series ended in a 3-0 drubbing, so this arduous trip threatens to end in humiliation for India.

A year ago India were the best Test team in the world. The drop has been sudden. This is not how it was supposed to go. In England and Australia they were expected to dominate, not capitulate. Whereas this Australian outfit has transformed from one in disarray to a strong one ready to change the course of matches, India look like a bunch of meek-minded hopefuls. Instead of the best chance India have ever had to win a Test series in Australia, this tour is looking to be even worse than England.

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