Taking a look at the future has never looked so worrisome for Indian Cricket. Blame it to on the high standards set by the team in the last two decade. Blame it on the Board that doesnt value its No.1 status as much as the fans do.
As things are, India are 2-0 down and now its players are braced for a very very tough challenge.
A few things are clear for me, Suresh Raina is not cut to play top quality pace bowling in seaming conditions, whatever he gained in the West Indies has been cancelled out, he has many questions that he must still answer. Yuvraj, I think has played his last Test Match for India. While Raina still shows signs that he wants to play Test Cricket, Yuvi doesnt even look like he wants to be there, maybe I am wrong, but Yuvi must prove me wrong. Bhajji needs to really deliver now and his past reputation & performance cannot guarantee a place for him in the Team.
In some ways the biggest worry has been the fact that India wilted at all crucial moments in this series. 70 odd for 5 at lords in the second innings and yet England get away. 125 for 8 to 221 in Notthingham was a great escape and then Indian collapse from 260 for 4 to 290 all out.
The fact also remains that we were with 3 fit bowlers in both tests and that is probably a reason why the bowlers were spent by the last session. England got away.
The best thing that India could do is to put up a totally fit 11 players and hope no injuries happen during a match. While cricket at the top level is played in the mind, it is a crime to players who do not complete the game. India had Sachin ill, Gambhir bruised, Zaheer limping in Lords. Then it compounded its problems by making Dravid open and disturbed the batting order again an injured Harbhajan in the second test.
Dhoni holds the key, his confidence is at an all time low, runs are not coming, keeping is not upto the mark at all and most importantly I felt in the two games that went by Dhoni has captained quite weirdly. Dhoni has always been his own man, but I have never seen Dhoni over attacking or being over aggressive. However in Nottingham while Enland were scoring boundaries like crazy he couldnt stop them at all, as a fielding captain he has been one of the most shrewdest. Not the aggresive Steve Waugh or Mark Taylor type but sort of shrewd like a Naseer Hussain ! But it was strange to see 3 slips while the run rate is 5 and score 350 !!!
Dhoni has always been his own man and sometimes his success was inexplicable, similarly it will be difficult to digest his failures as his ways will always bemusing ! This is Dhoni’s biggest challenge as a Test Captain. This is the ACID TEST for him.
India will have Sehwag & Gambhir opening and the batting line up will be in order, although no. 6 is still a problem area especially with Dhoni in such poor form. Mishra will probably bowl better than Harbhajan and having 4 fit bowlers will help India immensely.
Virender Sehwag will probably bring in the freshness India needs badly. More imporant than his runs will be his ideas and approach hope it rubs on to the other players. It would be unfair to expect Sehwag who has not played any serious cricket for 3 months almost to come and start tearing the English bowling apart. So while we all are looking at him as the Saviour of Indian Cricket dont expect too much or you might just be disappointed. He is human and without much cricket under his belt its more a case of hoping than having substantial logic.
Let us hope India prove all pundits and all logics wrong and fight from here on… Its not that they have not done so in the past… Never write them off !