The Telegraph
Monday , August 18 , 2014
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England players celebrate with the trophy at The Oval, on Sunday. (Reuters)

London: The shock was evident: Mahendra Singh Dhoni had to clear his throat a few times when he began taking questions from the media.

On the terraces at The Oval, there was dismay among India’s fans. “Test cricket khelna band kar do,” yelled one. Another blamed the “IPL.”

After lasting just 89.4 overs in the two innings at Old Trafford (fourth Test) and no more than 90.3 overs at The Oval, there’s certainly a case to get out of Test cricket.

For a while, that is.

“Shambolic,” is how former England captain Andrew Strauss described India’s shocker in their final innings of the series.

Nine wickets were lost in what turned out to be the last session on the third day at Old Trafford. Eight went down at The Oval in session No.2 on Day III.

Unbelievably, there were two run outs, including that of Gautam Gambhir. The Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain may have played his last Test for quite some time to come.

Actually, it was worse than shambolic. Nobody showed the stomach for a fight. Nobody appeared to have any concern for self-respect.

One felt ashamed watching India lose by an innings and 244 runs.

At Old Trafford, it had been an innings and 54 runs. Before that, in Southampton, the defeat was by 266 runs.

The margin just kept increasing.

England’s MoS James Anderson and his partner, Stuart Broad, had a vice-like grip on the Indians. That wasn’t all.

They destroyed the confidence to such an extent that Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes also become somewhat unplayable!

Around a month ago, after the thrashing at Lord’s, questions were being asked of England and captain Alastair Cook.

On Sunday afternoon, Cook lifted the sponsor’s cup and the Pataudi Trophy, having led England to an amazing 3-1 series win.

In a worst case scenario, the late Tiger Pataudi’s son, Saif, was looking at a fourth day-finish. Accordingly, he and wife Kareena were planning to reach London (from Winchester) on Monday.

But, clearly, Saif had more faith in India’s batsmen than they themselves had. So, Tiger’s begum, Sharmila, was the family’s sole representative on the podium.

“I was hoping that India would draw level and I’d hand over the Pataudi Trophy to both Dhoni and Cook, but that wasn’t to be. Of course, I’m deeply disappointed,” Sharmila, elegant as ever, told The Telegraph after the presentation.

“I’m very disappointed that we didn’t put up a fight... Losing nine wickets in one session and eight in another is a reflection on a batting order which hasn’t done well," Dhoni said.

When a mediaman from England asked if he’d reflected on his future as captain, Dhoni replied: “You’d asked me the same question in 2011... You have to wait and watch if I’m strong enough (to continue) or not... You’ll get the news.”

Is something playing on Dhoni’s mind? Hardly anybody knows, as he’s even more of a private individual than The Master, Sachin Tendulkar.

The possibility of Dhoni leaving Test cricket is there, but if it comes to that, who’ll take his place? Can’t be vice-captain Virat Kohli, who struggled right through the series.

Dhoni doesn’t duck questions from the media, but why does coach Duncan Fletcher hide?

Fletcher wasn’t visible during and after the 0-4 routs in England and in Australia, in 2011-12, and he’s been in purdah on this tour too.


Dhoni made the point, typically honestly, that “mistakes have to be accepted” and the lessons learnt.

Well, how many in Dhoni’s team have that attitude, which is a must for professionals?