Monday, Oct 20, 2014

India tour of England: Crouching Lions, hidden demons

Having won the ODI series already, India cut a happy picture during training a day before the final game of the ODI series in Headingly. (Express photo by Daksh Panwar) Having won the ODI series already, India cut a happy picture during training a day before the final game of the ODI series in Headingly. (Express photo by Daksh Panwar)
Written by Daksh Panwar | Leeds | Posted: September 5, 2014 2:14 am | Updated: September 5, 2014 10:08 am

In the presser after the Birmingham one-day international on Tuesday, which India won to clinch the series 3-0, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked if his team were tested enough. Having to respond to this question after an intensely testing Test series, Dhoni was understandably testy in his reply.

“How do you want us to be tested?” he shot back, before deigning to answer. “We were not tested because our fast bowlers bowled well. Where they didn’t bowl well, the spinners took the responsibility. Testing is good, but you don’t always want to be tested. You want to win games easily, too.”

To be fair to the question, in itself it was fair enough. But Dhoni is not one to readily agree that England just rolled over to have their tummies tickled, just like India had in the five-day games. Politeness will prevent him from discounting England’s performance, and pride will stop him from taking any credit away from his team. Privately, though, he may perhaps admit the obvious truth of the limited-overs leg: Sublime as no doubt India were, the hosts were exceedingly bad.

Even while factoring in the argument that these are two different formats, and therefore the demands are different, such complete reversals can’t easily be explained. They are normally infrequent — such 180-degree turnarounds are actually rare — but when they (or something close enough) occur, often it’s England at the receiving end. For example, after hammering New Zealand in the two-match Test Series at home last year, they went on to lose the three-match ODI series 2-1 (with the defeats more comprehensive than the eventual scoreline). Or in 2009, after winning the Ashes 3-1, they went on to lose the subsequent ODI series to Australia 6-1.

It proves what has been proved time and again: that England are a significantly poor ODI team as compared to their Test resources. Still, it falls short of explaining this monumental hiding they have received at their home turf.

There has been feeling throughout the series that England were unreasonably cautious while batting, and that they didn’t quite unlock themselves. Once they were pushed on the backfoot early on in the series, they stayed put there.

The normally explosive Alex Hales has been curiously restrained and their pinch-hitter down the order, Jos Buttler, has taken 91 balls for his three-match aggregate of 55. Clearly, there has been no counterattacking intent, except when Moeen Ali took the bull by the horns in the last match and blasted a 50-ball 67 at Edgbaston that included three sixes — two of those against the previous game’s Man of the continued…

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