India shamed at Oval

Dhoni's men crash to third consecutive defeat

India shamed at Oval

All out for 94 in 29.2 overs. That farcical scoreline reflected India’s embarrassment of massive proportions and England’s complete domination.

England put India under severe pressure, amassing 486 in their first innings to build a lead of 338 runs. India needed to wage a brave fight on Sunday, but crumbled like a cookie under a crane against James Anderson and company for a sub-100 total.

They crashed to an innings-and-244-run defeat— the third-heaviest in their Test history—in the fifth and final Test of the series that England won 3-1.

It was the second-consecutive Indian capitulation within three days. In Manchester, they lost by an innings and 54 runs in three days, losing nine wickets in one session. It almost got repeated at the Oval as India lost eight wickets for 85 runs in the post-lunch session.

After winning the second Test at the Lord’s, India couldn’t even stretch England, failing in all three departments of the game. Their batting was in a shambles, particularly the top order. M Vijay scored 402 runs to emerge India’s leading scorer.

But he never had a stable partner at the pole position. Shikhar Dhawan failed to click, and his replacement, Gautam Gambhir, was an even bigger letdown. The Delhi left-hander reached double figures only once in four innings.

But there couldn’t have been any bigger disappointment than Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, the expected batting fulcrums of India. In 10 innings, Kohli managed 134 runs at 13.40, falling repeatedly to his bete noire James Anderson.

Pujara was equally ineffective, scoring 222 in 10 innings at a little over 22. It was vastly insufficient for someone at the vital number three slot.

This tour would have told them in no uncertain terms about the need to improve their technique in conditions where a new ball darts around like a yo-yo.

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni showed his grit as a batsman. In conditions where many didn’t give him a chance, Dhoni scored 349 at 34.90. It was a commendable effort, but as a captain he faltered after the Lord’s Test. If he was aggressive to catch the game by its scruff in the second Test, Dhoni slipped into a passive and defensive mode in the next three.

His bowling changes, field placements and tactical moves defied convention and, at times, logic. Starting from the series against England in 2011, India have lost 13 out of 17 Tests outside the subcontinent.

It could be attributed to collective batting failure and lack of bowling resources, but it remains a fact that the Jharkhand man still has not come to terms with Test captaincy.

After this latest debacle, India needs a serious, uncompromising introspection. Urgently.

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