India’s loss to hosts England in the third Test has brought back ghosts from the 2011 series and both former cricketers and the media have picked their villains amid the rubble of the fallout.
Shikhar Dhawan has been a non-entity so far this summer and, if we were to go by the cricket pundits, Gautam Gambhir should have replaced him in the Southampton Test, but skipper MS Dhoni elected to give the Delhi opener another go.
Clearly it did not work for him.
Besides Dhawan's presence in the side, Dhoni is also being criticized for using part-time spinner Ravindra Jadeja as his main option.
With part-time counterpart Moeen Ali performaing so well, the feeling is that Ravichandran Ashwin can be a sure shot winner.
“Gambhir in place of Shikhar Dhawan and a place for Ashwin has to be made in the side for the Manchester Test. When an English spinner can do so much, Ashwin too can spin magic on English pitches,” said former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar.
BCCI coach and former Tamil Nadu spinner M Venkataramana also shared the Vengarsarkar’s opinion.
“The key here is that England have many left handers in their side. An off-spinner to a predominantly left-handed batting lineup is always an advantage,” said Venkataramana, who has 104 wickets in 19 Tests.
Legandary Indian off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna voiced his support for the inclusion for Ashwin as well, telling Press Trust India (PTI): “Ashwin should have played in all three Test matches. From my experience of playing in England, I can tell you that even if Ashwin plays at Old Trafford, he will come good at Oval, which can assist spinners. Jadeja should be used as a supporting option with Ashwin in lead role.”
The tricky part, however, is who will make way for Ashwin.
Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara have not clicked in this series so far, but replacing either would be suicidalfor India as both of them could come good at any moment in time.
On the other hand Jadeja and Ajinkhya Rahane have been doing well, leaving Rohit Sharma's place in the side under threat, according to Vengsarkar.
“I think Rohit should be sacrificed to make way for Ashwin. As far as Pankaj is concerned, he was unlucky and deserves another chance,” says Vengsarkar.
An off-field row that was threatening to become an unwanted sidelight to the keenly-contested Test series between England and India was laid to rest on Friday when Justice Gordon Lewis termed both James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja “not guilty”.
We do not know what transpired in the six-hour video conference for Justice Lewis to pass such a verdict but it does raise serious questions over match referee David Boon’s ruling.
The Indian team had ignited the fuse by accusing Anderson of pushing Jadeja on the second day of the Trent Bridge Test which led to a counter charge by England on the Indian all-rounder for “aggressive behaviour” against their leading pacer.
Since the Indians had pressed a Level 3 charge the issue was beyond the match officials according to the International Cricket Council’s Code of Conduct.
Anderson’s case was referred to a judicial commissioner appointed by the ICC while Jadeja’s fate was in Boon’s hands since England had slapped a Level 2 charge where the match referee sits in judgement.
Boon did not find Jadeja guilty on that charge but on a Level 1 offence, which the player cannot appeal, and fined him 50 per cent of his match fee.
The former Australian opener while passing his verdict had said: “While I was in no doubt that confrontation did occur, and that such conduct was not in the spirit of the game and should not have taken place…”
The difference is glaring if you compare that with Friday’s ruling where both players have been let scot free.
Had the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) not threatened to go legal on Jadeja’s verdict, his case would never have reached Justice Lewis and Boon’s decision would have stayed.
What was the evidence that Boon found strong enough to initiate action that Justice Lewis didn’t? Or was Boon being just trigger-happy?
The end result shows Boon in a poor light since his decision has been overturned and Jadeja has been declared innocent, which his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni strongly proclaimed.
It also leaves the ICC with egg on its face because their match referee has been proved wrong which casts doubts on their whole judgement process. The last has definitely not been heard on this case.
India’s massive 266-run Test defeat to England drew widespread condemnation on Friday with former captain Sunil Gavaskar accusing Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team of “abject surrender” in Southampton.
“To lose this Test even before lunch on the final day showed zero resistance whatsoever,” said Gavaskar. “There was no fight and that is a disappointing aspect.
“India’s loss was an abject surrender.”
Gavaskar said the “sloppy” display by Dhoni’s tourists had given England the chance to overcome the morale-sapping loss at Lord’s.
“India had England on the ropes at Lord’s,” he said. “I don’t know what they did in the five intervening days before the game but they were sloppy on the field at Southampton.
"This has been the problem with the Indian team since the 1930s – the complacency."
Former captain Sourav Ganguly said he was disappointed that Indian batsmen, renowned for playing spin well, allowed England off-spinner Moeen Ali to claim six wickets in the second innings.
Ganguly also called for the inclusion of opening batsman Gautam Gambhir in place of the struggling Shikhar Dhawan and wanted fast bowler Varun Aaron to be given a chance.
“The team needs fresher ideas at the top and Gambhir must be brought in,” he said. “Aaron has no experience of playing in England, but he needs to be given a chance. A bit more pace and you never know.”
Ganguly was, however, confident India will bounce back in the next Test, saying England were “still vulnerable”.