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Another letdown! Another loss!
by Gulu Ezekiel
Dec 30, 2006
Is it too much to ask the famed Indian batting to bat out a day— or even less— to draw a Test match?

It would appear so after the latest capitulation at Durban in the second Test with the two sides now locked 1-1 going into the final Test at Cape Town on Tuesday.

Of course, as with much concerning Indian cricket, such collapses are nothing new. But considering the current set of batsmen have long been considered one of the best in international cricket and have about them the air of superstars, tough questions need to be asked now.

How is it that players with the experience of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly and Sehwag invariably fail when it counts both in the fourth innings of a Test match as well as in the final of ODI tournaments?

Is it really that they cannot cope with the pressure after all these years in international cricket? The mountain of runs they have amassed in their careers is of little value if they cannot combine to save a Test match. And in this case, with the weather constantly intervening, the match did not even last five full days.

India have lost a Test match in a series immediately after winning the previous one ten times now in the last ten years. Both in Sri Lanka in 2001 and the West Indies in 2002, this cost us the series. The trend is ominous and after the splendid show in the first Test at Johannesburg, it would be a crying shame if India were to throw it all away in the final Test.

In this year alone this is the third time the Indian batting has folded up tamely in the final innings—first at Karachi, then at Mumbai against England and now once again when a draw was there for the asking.

Changes will have to be made for the Cape Town Test and it would be no surprise if Gautam Gambhir comes in for opener Virender Sehwag who has failed time and again on this tour and shown a shocking lack of application.

That would mean that two of India’s most valuable players, both in Tests and ODIs, would now find themselves on the sidelines after a year of miserable performances.

After the sending home of Irfan Pathan, Sehwag’'s shocking loss of form creates a big hole in the team and a real crisis looms ahead of next March'’s World Cup.

Hopefully Munaf Patel is now fit after being a passenger on the tour for a month now with a mysterious ankle injury. His inclusion for Cape Town will give the opening attack added teeth and this has been the most positive aspect of the tour so far. Zaheer Khan, S. Sreesanth —the find of the tour—and a fit Munaf will certainly give India an edge.

As for the batting, the lack of a fight is the most depressing aspect of this latest defeat. The time for lame excuses is over.
 
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