London, Aug 21: Indian fans had gathered at the Kensington Oval en-mass on Saturday evening, hoping to be treated to some entertainment from the Indian line-up. Poor strategy, poor shots, poor intent and a poor fighting spirit from the visiting team had deprived them of such in three Tests and hopes were high that the fourth encounter would evolve into something of a contest.
Alas, The India outfit were playing out the same old story that they had scripted only too well this summer. Impetuous drives, over-ambitious sweeps, ultra-cautious defence and an air of premature belligerence collectively spelt doom for a unit of some of the most celebrated batsman in the world. One could argue that the momentum was well on the side of the English, coming off three crushing wins and posting an overwhelming first inning total of 591/6 declared.
But where was that retaliatory verve that Indian captain M S Dhoni had promised would characterise the Indian approach to the final Test of the English summer? At the very least, the likes of VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina, not to mention Virender Sehwag, owed it to themselves to justify their credentials and play a knock of some redemption.
Sehwag's impulsive intent to come out all-guns-blazing was rightfully rebuffed by a focused English seamer James Anderson who sent him on his way after two savage pierces of the boundary. And while the hosts' pace has proved India' most niggling issue this tour, all of a sudden Graeme Swann's off break turns into the visitors' most potent nemesis! Indeed Swann, who has hitherto in the tour been a benign weapon, suddenly exploded, to beguile Tendulkar, Raina and nightwatchman Ishant Sharma.
Now, Rahul Dravid and captain M S Dhoni are faced with the predicament of saving face and taking this torn Indian innings to a position of some respectability... if at all that is possible.