India were defeated in their first tri-series game against Australia on Sunday at Melbourne. But, they would have derived some semblance of satisfaction from the fact that they ran the hosts close, and competed well for a decent period. As such, they would have been silently confident of putting it across the Englishmen at the Gabba on Tuesday. After all, the Indians had gotten the better of them during their recent visit. Also, England were considered the weakest of the three sides in the competition. The tables have turned completely around after just one game, such was the magnitude of India's defeat.
For the second game in a row, India batted first, but their performance at Brisbane was abysmal to say the least. Shikhar Dhawan's failure almost seemed like a foregone conclusion once James Anderson ran into bowl to him. It was as if both the batsman and bowler had pictured the sequence perfectly in their heads, and played out the same out in the middle. Dhawan's repeated failures are causing a massive headache for India. And now, things have reached a stage wherein the Indians know he will fail, but are hoping he doesn't.
Even if you keep the Dhawan factor apart, India's overall performance was also nothing less than shocking. The batsmen showed no inclination whatsoever to apply themselves at the crease. The pitch undoubtedly had some bounce to aid the bowlers, but India's batsmen still had the ability to deal with it in better manner. Looking back, the decision to premeditate strokes cost the Indian batting heavily. Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed going for a waft down the wicket without getting to the pitch of the ball, and many others just did not display the ability to get on top of the rising ball.
The fact that none of the Indian batsmen could reach the half-century mark was a clear illustration of India's woes. At the same time, one cannot but be baffled by the fact that India keep losing wickets to Moeen Ali. On Tuesday again, Ali accounted for Suresh Raina. Once more premeditation cost the batsman dearly. While it is true that the surface had something in it for the bowlers, it was by no means an unplayable surface as the England batsmen themselves demonstrated later on. Steven Finn and James Anderson were brilliant on the day no doubt, but it is equally true that the batsmen contributed to their own downfall.
With a meagre total to defend, the bowlers were never in with a chance to overcome the English batting. But again, it was the attitude shown by the Indians in the field that was so disheartening. The players were just going through the motions, having accepted their fate. It was horrible to see them totally disinterested out in the middle and the manner of defeat certainly doesn't augur well for them with the World Cup coming up. Sport essentially is a contest between two sides, but on Tuesday only one turned up at the Gabba.
--By A Cricket Analyst