Another spineless show

India collapse on Day 1

Another spineless show

Overcast conditions, swinging ball and baffled batsmen summarised the despondent Indian story that spilled over to the Oval as well.

After two setbacks at Southampton and Manchester, the Indians promised to show more grit in the fifth and final Test, trying to level the series.  But they were as firm as candyfloss against storm, getting rolled over for 148 in just 61.1 overs on Friday.

England rubbed salt on India’s wounds, reaching 62 for no loss without any obvious discomfort.

The visitors have failed to touch the 200-run mark in the last three innings, scoring 178, 152 and 161. On Friday, when India celebrated its Independence Day, the team sunk even lower.

There was no spectacular collapse like the 8 for 4 at the Old Trafford. However, though the decline was more gradual in nature, it was no less damaging.

Gautam Gambhir was the first to go, edging James Anderson to Jos Buttler behind the stumps.

Now, it is difficult to envisage Gambhir to be a part of the Test squad anytime soon. Perhaps, the next innings could be his last in the five-day format.

M Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny, who came in for Ravindra Jadeja, were mere fleeting visitors to the crease as India slumped to 44 for six minutes into the lunch session.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni notched up a determined 82, and added 58 for the last wicket with Ishant Sharma to save India from total disaster.

That partnership, however, can’t save India from some tough questions. Why they are not addressing certain technical issues, particularly with Pujara and Kohli? Have they got the right temperament and attitude for Test cricket? Why the Indian bowlers are not able to extract the same kind of venom from a pitch on which the Englishmen performed a dance of destruction? They need to find answers urgently.

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