New Delhi: It’s over for India. The misery has ended, on an even miserable note. An ODI washout followed one in Tests at the hand of England in the land of colonial cousins, and embarrassment was handed in an eight-part bouquet to India.
“How much you may try, we won’t take the foot off your neck," England sweared by and resultantly smeared India with eight harrowing defeats. To make the hosts’ task easier, injuries in the opposition camp depleted the visitors’ squad by the hour.
It started with Zaheer Khan, and perhaps ended with him too. His tour terminated on the first day itself as a crouching Zaheer was seen holding his hamstring at Lord’s. He did try a comeback in the practice game against Nottinghamshire but it lasted just three overs, and that was it.
The tour also began with a landmark. The Lord’s Test was 2000th in the game’s history and the 100th between India and England. It was hailed as a momentous occasion. Indeed it was and the gem was supposed to come from Sachin Tendulkar, anticipated to score his 100th century - at an iconic venue and in a landmark Test.
But little did anybody know that it would remain an anticipation throughout, let alone in the Lord’s Test. Down with a viral fever, Sachin was only a shadow of himself and never played like a force he is. Perhaps it was the last Lord’s saw of Tendulkar. Things didn’t change much in the subsequent two Tests. And when the moment seemed to be descending at The Oval, the master fell short by an agonizing nine runs.
A ‘saviour’ - Virender Sehwag - flew in before the third Test, but was blown away in double quick time, just two balls to be precise, or call it a ‘King Pair’. His embarrassment ended when he eventually flew home with a supposedly healed shoulder back in a cast. Thereafter, the travel desk at BCCI headquarters was kept busy. The air-fare bill shot up, with injured players returning and reinforcements getting seats booked on the first available flight.
Joining the injury queue - which stretched from the Test to ODI series - led by Zaheer and Sehwag were Harbhajan Singh (abdominal strain), Yuvraj Singh (finger fracture), Ishant Sharma (ankle), Rohit Sharma (finger fracture) and Sachin Tendulkar (toe).
And just like day one of the tour, the last day also ended in an injury when Munaf Patel twisted his ankle, completing a 58-day horror India lived through in the English summer.
In hindsight though, it gave birth to a promising talent in the form of Ajinkya Rahane who showed no nerves even with backs to the wall.
Coming back to injuries, yes it did play its part and the tourists were never at full strength on any day of the tour. But that won’t spare skipper MS Dhoni and the BCCI from answering some serious questions as India slipped to fifth in ODI rankings after losing their position as the No. 1 Test team to England.
1. Is it time for BCCI to re-work the schedule or follow a rotation policy to prevent injuries caused by overburden?
2. Why Munaf Patel wasn’t played in any of the four Tests even when Indian bowling was coming apart?
3. Why was Virender Sehwag rushed into a comeback? Who are the physios marking his fitness test as ‘passed’?
4. How correct it was on BCCI’s part to send an all-rounder (Ravindra Jadeja) to replace an opener (Gautam Gambhir) for the ODIs?
5. Why promising youngster Varun Aaron was allowed to gather rust and not played in conditions that favoured fast bowling?
6. Should Duncan Fletcher be termed a ‘wrong choice’ in the wake of his failure to carry forward a champion Test and ODI team?
Also, it remains to be seen if the BCCI takes serious stock of a grave situation or remains interested in milking the cash-cow named Champions League Twenty20 just two days later.