What do you call a team's batting performance that lasts a little under 90 overs in two innings combined? 90 overs constitute one day of Test cricket, but India's batsmen did not last the distance even in two innings put together. This gives one a clear indication of how shambolic the performance was from India's batsmen. The fact that the game ended inside three days in spite of ample time on day two being lost to rain is another clear demonstration of how listless the effort was from India. Unlike at Lord's, India's batsmen just did not show any guts to fight out the tough times. If that was the attitude India had in the game, one wonders why MS Dhoni decided to bat first in the first place.
As predicted in an earlier article, India had all but lost the match inside the first 5.1 overs when they lost four wickets for eight runs. In hindsight, the game was dusted there and then even though the lower order showed better application under eased up conditions. England bowled wonderfully well on day one. Still, some dismissals could have been avoided had India shown better application, or some of their batsmen were in form. Unfortunately, neither was the case. The only in-form batsman in the series for India, in the top order, Murali Vijay, got an unplayable delivery.
Among the others, Gautam Gambhir, who came in for Shikhar Dhawan, proved that he hadn't improved much from the last time he was sacked from the side continuing to be unsure outside the off stump. As for Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, this has been a nightmare of a series for the duo. Pujara's lack of confidence was exposed in the first innings, when he poked at an away going delivery without any conviction. The fact that he has struggled against Moeen Ali as well is another strong indicator of his lack of assuredness. Kohli, on the other hand, is still trying to figure out where his off stump is, which is not a great sign.
A hugely disappointing factor in India's batting in the second innings was the fact that they gave away four wickets to the spin of Ali, on the same surface that Ravichandran Ashwin did not make any kind of impact. Although India are known to be great players of spin, on numerous occasions, they have faltered against lesser-known spinners, and with all due respect to Ali, he is no Shane Warne. India made him look like one. Ajinkya Rahane was the only in-form batsman in the middle-order. He was bound to have a poor game. That's what happened at Old Trafford, and made matters doubly worse for the Indians. There was no way out for them.
India still had a chance to escape albeit a tough one, had they displayed some guts and gumption. England were one bowler short, an a big one at that, as Stuart Broad was ruled out of the game after being hit in the face by Varun Aaron. However, they couldn't last even half a day on a third-day surface that was not half as bad on the opening day. There was heavy rain forecast for the remaining days. India needed to show some fight. England's attack wasn't menacing for India to collapse in 43 overs. Ashwin proved that the batsmen could easily hang in on the wicket. England demonstrated the same earlier in the day. India, however, seemed least interested.
--By A Cricket Analyst