Fans of Indian cricket, who believed that the 95-run victory at Lord’s last month heralded the coming of age of this young team, will now relive the disappointments of 2011. Three years ago in England, Rahul Dravid (and to some extent, Sachin Tendulkar) had provided a semblance of pride in spite of the 4-0 whitewash, scoring three impressive centuries. In 2014, after three successive Test defeats, India seems to have thrown in the towel.
Only compare the defeats in the final Test matches, both at the Oval. On Sunday, India were able to bat for just 29.2 overs and were all out in little more than two hours. In 2011, batsmen firmly in the twilight zone held out for 91 overs to make a collective 283 in the last innings. James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann were made to work harder (185 overs) to bowl India out twice at the Kennington Oval. In the aftermath of the 2011 loss, there were calls for the induction of Indian batting’s next generation — Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli. Questions will now be raised about their Test-match temperament and technique.
The formerly-reliable No 3 and No 4 aren’t the only concerns. As the defeats mounted, batsmen who had started the series well, Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, became inconsistent against world-class fast bowlers. Moreover, slip catching grew worse as concentration and technique were found wanting, undoing the good work of the fast bowlers, who had struggled to make an impact after Lord’s. Dhoni’s fighting spirit with the bat has been heartening but his captaincy in Tests continues to be far from reassuring and his selection has been muddled. Since Lord’s, it has all imploded for this Test team.