Do you remember when, as a child, you played games with friends and the “doesn’t count” argument incessantly came up? I seem to recall any number of great sporting moments challenged because “someone moved before they were supposed to” or “I wasn’t ready” or “You said this was the crease, not that.” Doesn’t count. Do it over.
Well, that’s basically what the Indians should take away from the Lord’s Test. When I read Sambit Bal’s column on the English performance, I was a bit stumped — a class apart? Were the English bowlers really that much better than Praveen Kumar’s five-fer, or Ishant Sharma’s fiery spell on Day 4? Apart from Harbhajan v. Swann, the only way the English bowlers came out on top of this dogfight was in the numbers. That is, they had one more than we. (And the one we didn’t have wouldn’t have allowed 400+ in the first innings.)
Now, it’s true that the Indian batsmen could have done better. Each one who made it to double-digits and failed to Trott-ify the opposition committed a crime, but I’m still amazed the Indians batted out more than 90 overs and came within two hours of reaching the draw. Given Gambhir’s elbow; given Tendulkar’s mysterious viral infection; given Zaheer’s hamstring, I’m inclined to agree with Dhoni when he says everything that could go wrong, did. Lay off.
This isn’t to say that I don’t want some criticism lobbied somewhere. In an ideal world, after this team won the World Cup, they would have rested, enjoyed their rewards for a month and a half, then headed back to England and roared back to form during two three-day matches and plenty of team exercises. Instead, they had a week of mayhem, then the IPL (during which time, one may recall, they lost Sehwag and Gambhir to injuries), then headed (mostly) to the West Indies (where nothing much of note occurred), only to arrive in a cold, foreign land a quick moment later.
So, considering what this English team did to the Australian opposition, take my word for it: this Test didn’t count. On to next one!