Gavaskar leads criticism after Indian collapse

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar joined other leading stars of the game in condemning a spineless performance by India's batsmen in the third and final Test against England.

The highly-rated line-up folded for just 100 runs in their second innings on Wednesday after they were set a target of 313 allowing England to stroll to their first Test victory in India in 21 years and level the series 1-1.

Gavaskar was critical of the home side's decision to field first on a pitch that was expected to help seamers early on, but felt the Test could still have been saved.

"That India were all out once again in less than 50 overs tells a story of how too much One-day cricket and too much shuffling of the batting order has had an adverse effect on the confidence of the players," Gavaskar wrote in the Hindustan Times.

"It may work against a weak Sri Lanka but against quality bowling, it comes a cropper like in Pakistan and Mumbai," wrote the legendary opener.

"It is not just the defeat but the manner of losing without a semblance of a fight that needs examination; accountability and responsibility fixed. Not look for some convenient, low-profile scapegoat.

Former England opener Geoffrey Boycott felt the Indian batting was nowhere near what it had been over the past few years.

"To me, this batting line-up is not what it was two years ago in Australia, though the names may be the same," Boycott wrote in a column in the same paper.

"(Opener Virender) Sehwag, bad back or no bad back, has been in poor form and lacking in confidence for quite a while and (Sachin) Tendulkar is in the worst form of his career," he wrote about two of India's batting stars.

Sehwag could not field during England's second innings because of back spasm and batted at number seven on the last day. Tendulkar has a shoulder injury that will keep him out of action for at least eight weeks.

Boycott was also critical of coach Greg Chappell for going in with five bowlers in the match.

"Chappell's theory of using five bowlers looks good on paper because the team has more bowling options.

"But when India play five bowlers, it looks as though Chappell is trying to make up for a lack of quality with quantity.

"Playing five bowlers weakens the batting, so you need much better batting from the top five batsmen, and at the moment, they are not in good form, which makes a good case for the inclusion of (Venkatsai) Laxman.

Former England skipper Nasser Hussain felt the Indian side lacked the "ruthlessness required to reach the top in international cricket" but praised the visiting side for the comeback win.

"I put this victory second only to the Ashes triumph of a few months ago," he wrote in a column in The Times of India.

"This win has been possible due to the meticulous planning of coach Duncan Fletcher and the captaincy of Andrew Flintoff, along with exemplary performances by youngsters like (Alastair) Cook, (Owais) Shah, (James) Anderson, (Monty) Panesar, as also older players like Shaun Udal."

Hussain was singular in his praise of Flintoff.

"He has come of age and is turning into a world-class all-round cricketer," he wrote about Flintoff, who had to take over the reigns after regular skipper Michael Vaughan returned home because of a knee injury.

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