It could soon be over for India
A Test down & struck by injuries, visitors have a tough task to stop England from opening up an unassailable lead. Sanjjeev K Samyal reports. First Test blues
Nottingham: Circa: 2002. Match: First Test at Lord's. Result: India lose by 170 runs.
For Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan and Zaheer Khan, India's rout in the opening Test would have brought back memories of the series played between the two sides nine years ago. The margin of defeat on Monday was even bigger: 196 runs.
Once again, England exploited the chinks in an under-prepared India side. All eyes are on the response now. Can Tendulkar & Co roll back the years and script a fightback like they did under Sourav Ganguly?
Like then, the next game is at Trent Bridge. At that time, the batsmen had batted out of their skin to save the second Test and gave themselves the opportunity to level the series in the third.Another trial against seamers
India will again be tested at the venue where the England pacers are expected to thrive.
If India can manage to come out unscathed, they will be in a better position to turn the tables in the final two games. Simply, because they will get better as they spend more time in these conditions.
But, former England seamer, Angus Fraser, feels India have already lost a lot of ground.
“I predict an England win. The first Test result could decide the series. It could be over before India could adjust to the conditions. India have come in looking a bit raw. They needed more cricket than they had in this country,” said Fraser, director of cricket, Middlesex.
To retain their No.1 ranking, India cannot afford to lose the series by a two-game margin.
Lack of preparation is showing in India's performance, he said.
“Quite a number of the players played in the West Indies but a couple didn't, and you can't just switch and turn into Test mode. England are a side who are more used to these conditions. India will get better as the series goes on. They have their work cut out, to draw or win at Trent Bridge,” said Fraser, who claimed 177 wickets in 46 Tests between 1989 and 1998.
Fraser felt England's pace attack gave them the cutting edge and the injury to Zaheer Khan had tilted the balance in favour of the home team.
'England pacemen have the edge'
“England's attack is more experienced. They have the cutting edge in Chris Tremlett, James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
“Zaheer is the leader of the attack but it seems he will be out of the team for some time now. It doesn't seem like he will play the Trent Bridge match. Praveen Kumar is a medium pacer while Ishant Sharma is a bit inconsistent. Then, you have Munaf Patel or Sreesanth to replace Zaheer. So England's got the better pace attack.”
Fraser said the key to success was hitting the right length.
“Pitching the ball up means giving the ball a chance to swing, so, you don't want to be too short, you want to be threatening the stumps, you want to bring LBW in the game.”