Team India faced with a 196-run defeat, it was yet another addition to India’s reputation as slow starters after it was confirmed. Where the entire England setup seemed geared solely towards the betterment of the Test side, India looked a rabble of contradictions. While there were admittedly several factors that went against India at Lord’s – the injuries to Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir, and Sachin Tendulkar‘s illness all severely affected the team – the fact remains that they were outclassed, and now need to mount yet another comeback to draw level.
But this Team India has shown time and again that they have got guts to rise up quickly. Team India is used to this scenario, since they have faced it five times on their last seven tours all within the last four years. MS Dhoni can also draw some hope from the fact that the first Test will be followed by the second Test. That’s stating the obvious, but historically their performances in second Tests have been huge improvements on the first. Coming back to the current series, it also helps that the venue for the second Test is again Trent Bridge, a ground where they beat England by seven wickets in 2007. It would be correct platform for getting the equation even with England.
Team India has outstanding talent, which is why they are No. 1 in the ICC rankings, and are led by someone whose pressure-soaking coolness has allowed them to flourish. But Test cricket is physically demanding and staying top of the Test tree requires harnessing talent through careful planning. They may still turn it around in the second Test – as they did so thrillingly in Durban seven months ago – but the signs aren’t good. And really, for the No. 1 ranked team in a milestone match of a marquee series, slow starts should not be tolerated. The wealth of financial and cricketing resources at India’s disposal demands better.
Yet prioritizing between wringing every last drop of revenue – through a packed international schedule and a hyped domestic Twenty20 tournament – and producing the No. 1 ODI and Test side is not straightforward. The Future Tours Programme could be blamed but that only ignores the scope the BCCI has to influence it. Even if not, the board could have found a way for the players rested for the West Indies tour to have an extra game in England before the rest of the team arrived, or at least fly in early as they did on the South Africa tour.
One thing for sure, we shall look forward to more spirited and fighting performance from Team India come second test match. And England may have to look for cover or excuses for losing the match this time.