Fallen heroes look for answers in dismal tour

Birmingham: Word has spread that the Indian cricket team is looking for a psychologist -- that resting couch for a battered sporting unit which has fallen from the top as astonishingly as it reached there.

The final Test at the Oval starts on Thursday and unless James Anderson starts bowling with a left-arm or Alastair Cook begins to bat right-handed, the inexorable slide towards a 4-0 verdict can only be halted by the Gods of the game.

Down 0-3 in the series, it is no more than a "series here and there which happens" to best of teams.

England has shown how Test teams ought to be prepared. No individual matters; no resting on laurels is allowed. Bowlers are still pegging away at a spot in practice till the final minute before the start of a day`s play. Batsmen are batting for 13 hours and yet are extremely cross with themselves when out.

Team India, on the other hand, are merely turning up at the ground.

The fact is a team cannot be considered the world`s best if it cannot win series in Australia, England or South Africa.

It can`t be the best with selection as bizarre as the one of Wriddhiman Saha when the team needed third opener or the recall of RP Singh who, surprised as he was, took a few days to sort out his travel plans.

Nobody takes a call how cricketers last the IPL and then choose important series to go under the surgeon`s knife.

When the big guns go, and the younger ones remain unprepared, and the losses become an everyday occurrence and the disenchantment with Test cricket sets in India, the future of longer version of the game could hardly be termed as bright.

Test cricket`s best hope rests with India`s support which in turn depends on its performance for sponsors to remain interested. The swagger of World Cup win; the fact that but for a visit to Australia in winter, the next three years would have these teams only visiting India can still paper over the chasms.

Presently, this team is too tired, too dispirited, too bad a fielding and bowling unit to matter in England.

There`s only one genuine instance when India has been able to bowl out England once. There`s still no 300 runs on the board. Lower order was being physically battered on the fourth day pitch at Edgbaston when by general consensus it had become too slow.

India played no better than 120 overs in third Test while England declared after 170-odd once. The margins of defeat --196, 319 runs and by an innings and 242 runs -- should tell something.

Meanwhile the team wouldn`t practice today or tomorrow. They would have nets for two days leading up to the final Test on Thursday.

Local bowlers and the likes of Munaf Patel and RP Singh are all they can muster to simulate the conditions of the Oval.


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