Pakistan prospered, India perspired and then expired

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2005, 12:30 [IST]
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The only record team India kept intact at Bangalore was their woeful losing record. The spineless capitulation on the fifth day was truly inexcusable. Inexcusable because the Pakistani players piled on the runs quickly to set the Indians a target and lost two wickets only in the process. Both teams played on the same pitch with the same assistance to the bowlers, expect the Pakistanis prospered and the Indians perspired and then expired.

Contrast that with India. The first act of travesty was a tyro like Gambhir getting the run machine Sehwag run out courtesy of a "brain dead" call for a run and then changing his mind! The sad part was that the new one didn't work any better. What was he thinking! After that happened, the end was never in doubt. Only Kumble looked like he wanted to save the match by holding out for a draw. Unfortunately, I think the rest of his teammates wanted to hurry off to their next advertising assignment and batted the part.

Sourav cut a sorry figure once again. Sachin looked like he just wanted to overtake Sunny's 10,122 as his goal for the day. Once that was done, away he went. One day he plays like a champion and the next gets outfoxed looking like a novice. However, all due credit to the Pakistanis, they never gave up. Shahid Afridi for the umpteenth time was the "thorn" in India's side.

Even on day three and four when the runs should have flowed steadily, the Indians choked and scored at such a miserly rate. These are definitely not the traits of a potential number two team. Poor John Wright! He's getting such a poor send-off. I wonder who'd want to coach a team that repeatedly forgets the basics! How much humiliation can a coach take? Would Greg Chappell want to coach these guys? Remember, he gave India the "Choker'' tag and how many times have the Indians obliged!

At this point, as per the ICC rankings, India doesn't deserve the number two spot. They are number three, but a distant number three behind the British who are versatile and fight to the finish as opposed to finish each other on the field.

Hopefully where Team India miserably failed, the rest of India makes up for it with gracious hospitality.

Should Sourav Ganguly be given the axe at this point? Should he stay on in the One-day side and just be a One-day player? There are tough decisions confronting the Indian think tank but not as tough as the one Gambhir got wrong! All credit though to Abdul Razzaq for the pinpoint accurate throw when it mattered the most. At that critical juncture, I wanted to see Pakistan win. Such an outstanding fielding act had to be rewarded commensurately.

Surely, there will be all kinds of analysis of what went wrong for India. Hopefully once the results are tallied and studied, a repeat of disastrous batting episodes and lacklustre bowling spells will be fewer and far in between as opposed to the norm.

Hearty congratulations to the Pakistanis! You never gave up. Here's wishing you similar success in the upcoming ODIs. We hope you are enjoying your tour. Anything else that can be done to make your stay a memorable one, I am sure, will be duly provided by the Indian public. Did I hear them say, "How about winning the ODI series as well?" Ask Team India that one and see if they'll oblige.

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