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India vs England, Npower Test Series, 3rd Test Match Preview

August 10, 2011

The countdown for the 3rd test match at Edgbaston between the defending champions and the challengers begins. India lose, and they are no more #1 in tests, what they have been for quite a long time now. It has been a long period since India faced a series defeat in tests. That was way back in January 2008 in the Border-Gavaskar trophy against Australia in Australia. India has not ever since lost in a test series. But this time this stat is put under some real thread. For the very first time since then India have faced back to back test defeats and gone down 0-2 straight away coming into a series.

This one is probably going to be the most challenging especially when the side has gone down twice in two tests. The confidence is not there. And also in this series except a very few number of sessions India have not looked threatening at all. This is not expected though from the a team which had 12-13 points cleared from its immediate competitor just a few months ago. And thus many of the former players are now holding there bids with England. Many of them are saying that India may well be whitewashed here.

This might just be the time that you may get a little casual English side as a result of all these happenings. We have seen in the past and it has been a big problem for England over the years that they get over confident at times. And we all will love to see that that England pay the price for their over confidence again. Still the fact remains true that this Indian side lead by Dhoni has been so successful in the recent past and they have shown their potential to come back strongly and save the series or to win it at times. They are now standing in front of a very tough ask but you won’t get any better platform to prove yourselves as the deserving champs.

But in order to do all these India must look back again to their past few weeks’ performances. In the last two matches what was ever missing were the attitude and body language. The players were only physically present in the field, but the motivation was really vanished. The efforts they put on the field was really disappointing. Many of the young players like Mukund, Sreesanth made a lot of misfields. Even the likes of Yuvraj and Raina whose presence in the field makes a difference to the attitude of the rest, just didn’t brought here. Instead Yuvraj’s commitment in the field, his misfields contributed a bit more to the frustration of the captain who himself had been doing many of those.

What they have to do is to take out the positives from the period of their fielding. The ever young Tendulkar fielding at mid-on was diving around and trying to save every ball that came towards him, and also chasing each of those that had gone towards the long on and sightscreen boundary till the ball reached the fence. Another boy was seen all over the place,Wriddhiman Saha. As a substitute he showed a lot of character in the field(in spite of being a wicket keeper), just goes to show that if you give this guy a place in the side he will give everything that he has got. The rest must learn from these two.

The three Indian seamers have been very good at times but they need to be consistent. Sometimes the length they have bowled in these tracks have rewarded them wickets, but surprisingly they had withdrawn that length at vital times and bowled a lot of short deliveries in slow pace and got hammered even by the tail-enders. But not only in this test, but also for the rest of the tour Zaheer won’t be available. R.P.Singh won’t get a chance I guess, India will play the three seemers who are in the game already. So they must take some extra workload in order to fill the gap of the premium bowler of their side. Injury concerns continue with Harbhajan. Don’t know what the team management is thinking but here again I guess Amit Mishra should get the preference over Pragyan Ojha for being in the game. Mishra was impressive in the tour of West Indies whereas Ojha is out of the side for some time now. Another reason ofcourse is the weakness of English batsmen against the leg spinners.

But for one thing that India may take a deep breath is the come back of Virender Sehwag. Gambhir also is now fully fit for the next test. So the most reliable opening pair will be available for the first time in the series. One of the keys to the success of this team has been their opening pair Viru-Gauti. They do have a very good understanding, plays for the same state in the Ranji trophy and both of them are aggressive. Scores runs quickly and gives the bowlers time to take 20 wickets in a test match. Sehwag though didn’t show his spark in the practice match that he played or even in the South Africa tour; struggled to get his touch, but everyone knows what he can do to the bowling when he is in song. So nothing much to say about. And more importantly what it makes that it pushes Rahul Dravid back to his #3 position where Mr. Dependable has been mostly comfortable. And to give the man in form a chance to bat at his favourite position will hopefully produce good fruits for Team India.

On the other hand England’s #3 Jonathon Trott is out of this match for a shoulder injury. He has been a key player and difference maker in this position for them. Bopara comes in as his replacement. He is not quite tested yet in the tests and haven’t been much successful too. So one of the pillars of the English batting who has been playing the role of an innings constructor for them. India must capitalize here.

Don’t think that the pressure of the expectation for that 100th hundred has led Sachin down. Every time he walks in to bat there is a mountain of expectations on him irrespective of whether he is standing in front of any milestone or not. Nobody knows about the pressure of expectation better than him neither can handle better than him. So I don’t agree with them who are saying that it has added an extra pressure to his game. Actually he hasn’t batted all that bad in this series, just didn’t have the luck to convert those starts into real big ones but he seemed to find his touch in the last innings of the previous test which will make him feel better so as the team. Definitely he will have it in his bag at some point of time, but since then we all must allow him to enjoy his rather reminding him every time about this, and it will extract the best from the best batsman in the world. And if that happens one can’t ask for anything better.

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