In the 2004 Test tour of Australia, India drew the first Test and went on to win the second in a fighting fashion only to lose the third. While they were being written off, they came back in roaring form to post 705-7 in the fourth Test to almost win the series.
Team India findsitself in a similar situation after three Tests in the current England tour.
Looking at the fourth match Test grounds of both the series, in Sydney Anil Kumble’s 12-wicket haul almost put us on the brink while Old Trafford will always remain the home of spin:Jim Laker took an astonishing 19/20 wickets in the famous 1956 Test here.
In fact, India’s only 5-wicket haul at this ground is a spinner in the form of Dilip Doshi in 1982. So there’s no reason not to go in with both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.
While Ashwin has done greatly on Indian pitches one shouldn’t forget that in the 2011-12 tour of Australia, he picked up 4 wickets in the Melbourne match and 5 wickets at Adelaide. Dhoni has got to start playing Ashwin more on foreign pitches.
Ashwin has so far proved to be a much better Test batsman than Jadeja and so we can still go in with 5 bowlers if need be.Ishant Sharma may have been ruled out and Pankaj Singh perished at Southampton, but we still have two more options in the form of Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey.
Of course detractors will also point to Moeen Ali who was the nemesis of the Indian batsmen in the second innings at Southampton. However, the Indians can still get the better of him. Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane
Warne were always taken seriously and didn’t do that well against India.
Ajantha Mendis destroyed India early on in his career.However the Indians soon figured him out and he was subsequently dropped when Sri Lanka played India. Moeen steadily picked up wickets throughout the series, but the Indians underestimated him.
You can be sure that the Indian think tank has already found a way to sort out Moeen and will underestimate him no more. Things may be totally different at Old Trafford.
Team India also has to put the James Anderson controversy behind them. He may have escaped an ICC ban, but when the Indian batsmen have applied themselves, they have totally neutralized Anderson at various times in the series.
His partner Stuart Broad is also facing a chronic knee problem for quite some time now. He will either miss the fourth Test or be not that effective if he bowls if India’s openers manage to play him out.
Of course one thing that really has to be lifted is fielding. Alistair Cook was dropped on 15 and that revived his batting, captaincy and Team England. That has been the costliest drop of the series.
Our batting may have totally collapsed at Southampton, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Check out the top scores of India’s batsmen on the Test tour so far…
Murali Vijay-146, Ajinkya Rahane-103, MS Dhoni-82, Ravindra Jadeja-68, Bhuvneshwar Kumar-63*, Mohammed Shami-55* andCheteshwar Pujara-55.
On many foreign tours you’ll always find some Indian batsmen languishing in single digits for the better part of the tour, but it has not happened this time. In Southampton, even out of form Virat Kohli managed 39 and Shikhar Dhawan scraped through for 37.
With a bit more application and determination, this batting line up can bounce back. They did pretty well in the tough pitches of South Africa and New Zealand and came close to winning a Test in both countries.
The post-2011 overseas jinx was broken at Lord’s and the Indians can still fight it out at Old Trafford.
But one has got to feel that time is running out for captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher.
A fifth straight overseas Test series loss is inexcusable. England won a Test series against India in 1996 and after that only in 2011.
After 2011, India has looked totally lost with England till Lord’s. A third successive series loss for India would put England firmly in the ascendancy.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/