India lost second cricket test against England in Wankhede, Mumbai. There are few points that stand out. The same team had played and beaten England convincingly just seven days before in Gujrat. Based on the discomfiture of English players against spin attack, Indian captain demanded a spinner friendly pitch in Mumbai. India got a spinning track. However, Indian batsmen supposedly great experts at playing spin, succumbed like a pack of cards. Thank god for century of Cheteshwar Pujara, India managed a respectable total in first innings. Most wickets were bagged by English spinners. Then came English batting. Although most batters did not contribute, two scored more than 150 runs each and secured an 87 run lead. English batters who scored, did not look very uncomfortable playing Indian bowlers. In response, Indian batting collapsed giving England 50 run lead, which was covered by England without losing any wicket.
It is surprising that English players negotiated spin so well, an area supposedly their nemesis. Yet Indians failed so miserably in an area that is their forte! Is Monty Pansear so good, almost unplayable? What happened to our batters and our spinners? English hit our bowlers easily for six. What made so much difference to two teams in a span of one week?
I understand cricket is a game. One team has to lose, but not succumb the way we did in Wankehede. There are many questions. However, there are two people who needs to standup and answer. First is the captain, Mr. Mahinder Singh Dhoni. Captain can demand a pitch of his choice, but he must deliver when he gets one. Either Dhoni is a cribber or he is not able to motivate his players. I have respect for Dhoni. He gave us two world cups. Somehow, it appears all is not well in Indian team. Inflated egos, poor fitness, huge pay cheque, difficult to drop senior players. List goes on
Secondly, Sachin Tendulkar. Most senior player, considered a legend, with highest number of centuries to his credits. Many believe he is one of the best that can happen to cricket. Sachin failed yet again, when team needed him to deliver. He could not win us world cup against Australia, when Indian team was tottering. Many commentators have complained why pick on Sachin, when most failed. However, that is how we separate great from average. When average fails, great must standup and deliver. What is the point of scoring centuries in inconsequential matches against Bangladesh, Kenya, Zimbabwe? What is greatness, if it cannot work for you in the moment of dire need? Yet none of Indian selectors can ask Sachin to step down. People want to give Sachin more time. Time to do what? He is 40. He is definitely not in the form of his 20s. His fielding has slackened. His batting is for everyone to see. I do not want Sachin to retire ignominiously. But he has given enough, got enough, he should move into sunset.
Compare Sachin to Steve Waugh. Steve Waugh played games of his life to win world cup for Australia. This when, he was playing the role of captain as well as team was under pressure after losing early wickets. Steve Waugh scored century for his team. Steve Waugh, made Australia the best team in one day and test crikcet format as captain. Yet Steve Waugh was asked to retire when he was not scoring despite his record.
Coming back to Mumbai test. However, even if Indian batters have clicked and India had given a lead of 300 runs, English were in such a great form they would have chased it down. So much for a spinning track.