Final Test ends in a draw as Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell hit centuries to defy the host
Sunk to the bottom of the sea! You can say that of Indian cricket until the time it reorganises its dwindling resources and makes a mark as a consistent Test team.
The woeful performance on the last day of the final Test against England certainly cast doubts on the durability of some of the members of this team that went down 1-2, the first series loss for India at home in eight years. This was England’s first series win in India after 1984-85.
England, which finished the day at 352 for four, was never going to be a pushover. The team had painstakingly prepared for this expedition and the heights were scaled with utmost professionalism. Each member played his role with Jonathan Trott picking the stage to compile his eighth Test century, an innings that crushed any Indian hopes of a miraculous comeback into the match.
At no point did the Indian attack appear worthy of taking a wicket as England, resuming at 161 for three, comfortably took charge and then mocked at the situation which kept slipping out of India’s grip.
The shambolic character of the home team presented a pitiable picture, so tellingly symbolised in Sachin Tendulkar disappearing into the dressing room, a shoulder pain also triggering off wild speculations concerning his retirement. For long, he had carried Indian cricket on his shoulders. They are drooping now from the weight.
The Indian supporters sat in silence as the barmy army applauded England’s march at Jamtha here. The domination that England exerted only confirmed its overall supremacy in the series showing scant regards for the reputed opponents. It was a series that totally exposed the Indians.
The defensive field and the hopelessly predictable line that the Indian spinners adopted showed the team in poor light. Ravindra Jadeja came left-arm round from one end and Pragyan Ojha left-arm round from the other, neither remotely promising a wicket. R. Ashwin, with an average of 50-plus this series, and so wallowing at the end of the fourth day’s play, finished with one wicket. Well, the only wicket to fall this day.
Trott and Ian Bell, the latter also cracking a century, gave the impression of batting in the ‘nets’, so relaxed, so sure, scoring at will, defending without hassle or hustle.
Forward defence and more forward defence was the simple mantra as the ball did nothing and bowlers absolutely nothing. There was little to lament actually. The state of Indian cricket had been laid bare thoroughly at Mumbai and Kolkata.
The Indian bowling’s ineffectiveness was not tough to gauge. In less than half an hour this morning, the field lay scattered, more interested in saving runs. Their reputation in tatters, the Indian bowlers simply went through the motions, the yawns in the galleries later turning into sarcastic support for the English with hearty cheers for every boundary. The faithful fans had given up too, but the team had surrendered much earlier in the day.
Trott kept his focus. He was unfazed by some meaty offerings from the bowlers. He had to spend time at the crease and milk runs. He was prepared to wait and then pounce if the ball had to be punished. He had enough time and space to plan his shots, place them and thrive. So insipid was India’s bowling.
Bell concentrated well. His job was to support Trott and make the most of the tiring Indian attack. The new ball made no difference this morning and the spin later was a mockery of Test cricket. Runs were rarely so easy to accumulate in Test cricket, but astonishingly a 10,000-strong crowd sat through the mundane proceedings. Trott was eventually out to a catch at leg-slip but Bell carried on strongly and compiled his 17th Test century.
When the umpires called “time”, everyone was relieved. The English celebrated, the Indians mulled their future and the crowd melted away. It was a most forgettable day of Test cricket, indeed!