August 17, 2011

The decision to investigate the Test drubbing is a welcome move. A thorough soul-searching will only help Indian cricket, writes Wasim Akram.

India need to take fresh guard at The Oval. While it is difficult to erase memories of a 3-0 humiliation, the Indian dressing room must now look ahead and plan for the limited overs series. The Oval is the best place to make a new start as playing conditions will be much to the liking of the Indians.

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England will have their tails up and will like to win the Test series 4-0, but I am sure, the Indian team will turn a new leaf and the experience in the camp will finally show. Cricket is a cruel game as Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar found out at Edgbaston. But England have played excellent cricket so far and have driven home the point that the game is bigger than individuals.

England deserve to wear the world No. 1 crown. They have played as a team, backed each other and have told the world that Indians are not invincible. If you don’t respect conditions and take things for granted, you will pay a price and India have done just that. I understand the BCCI is going to probe the reasons for the Test humiliation. While it is a welcome move, I only hope that it will not be a one-sided investigation. Wealth should not blind wisdom.

Fatigue, injuries, lack of application and work ethics are the many factors that have been doing the rounds, but the one thing that worries me is whether India have the talent to replace their veterans like Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag. Therefore, the Rainas, Kohlis and the Rohit Sharmas have miles to go. It will be a tough call for the selectors.

Sehwag was a disappointment. You can’t do miracles in cricket when you are not in touch with the game, and definitely not in English conditions. Sehwag’s mindset at Edgbaston was rusty. He was probably caught between his natural explosive self and the pressure of expectation and pitch occupation. He will be more at ease at The Oval where the wicket will be more like the sub-continent tracks.

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I don’t see too many changes in the Indian XI. The Oval will help the spinners and I think Dhoni will opt for Amit Mishra, who has disappointed me. I had backed Mishra in place of Harbhajan, but then India’s overall bowling has been toothless. At this rate, it will be difficult to bowl out England twice in a Test match.

BCCI planning has been criticized in the media. RP Singh’s late arrival for the third Test is a case in point. It’s been a paid holiday for him and even he plays the fourth Test, don’t expect him to make miracles. I am sure BCCI will learn from this England tour and if India have to reclaim their No. 1 status, the Indian Board will have to do some serious soul searching. After all, India’s top status will only ensure longevity for Test cricket.

All is not lost for India. Every day is new beginning and India have the capability to turn the tables. Public memory is short and nobody loves a loser. The Oval is the perfect scenario to recharge your batteries for the ODI series ahead. Only, the Indians have to believe in themselves and play street smart cricket.

Courtesy: ESPN STAR
Source: Wasim Akram on the Oval

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