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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

Home team’s bowling looked lackluster, but batsmen let the team down as they struggled against spinners, writes Gavaskar

Saturday, December 13, 2021
' India were over-confident’

Good old-fashioned application from Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood has put England in a position of strength in the first Test. This is not an easy pitch to play shots on, and in India the important thing is to spend as much time at the crease as possible, for that way it gets easier. Of course there are batsmen with extraordinary gifts like Virender Sehwag for whom most pitches make no difference whatsoever, and it is fear of him that will make England think twice before looking to set any target for the Indians to chase in the second innings.

There was a general feeling that India were complacent, but it was more like over-confidence and not complacency that got the top batsmen out. That on this slow surface England's spinners have taken 6 wickets does not speak well for India's batsmen, and they would have had further embarrassment if Harbhajan had not played another top innings and shared a good partnership with skipper Dhoni. He has always taken his batting seriously and now has begun to show good temperament too, as he is prepared to knuckle down and wait for runs. Mahendra Singh Dhoni too is no longer the swashbuckling batsman whom the crowds took to heart, but a much more solid player now, and with captaincy is showing more responsibility. He did get out trying to go for the big six but that is a shot he now attempts only when India is chasing quick runs or looking for a declaration.

He would have been disappointed at the efforts of his top batsmen for the bowlers had done well to restrict England to 316, when it looked like they would be getting more than 400 after that century opening start from Strauss and Cook. Strauss, the centurion in the first innings, is again standing firm and unless England is dismissed within another 100 runs, India will be in serious trouble. India's bowling looked lacklustre, and with no inspiration whatsoever when Strauss and Collingwood got entrenched. Collingwood is in a similar situation like Dravid where his place in the team is being queried, but he was not put under any pressure whatsoever, and so he grittily built his innings and is now past a half century.

Strauss is looking to score a century in each innings and unless India pull out something special he will get it. He is a no nonsense player who plays within his limitations, and frustrates the bowlers rather than destroy them.

India are looking down the barrel alright and they know it.