cricketIndia’s batsmen emulated their performance of the Southampton’s third test in the fourth test as well. The difference was; the 266-run loss at Southampton appeared more decent than the shameless surrender at Old Trafford, where the poorest batting by Indians was on a sordid display. England didn’t have Stuart Broad on day 3, but with Indians playing like street kids without any responsibility, it didn’t make any difference. They appeared to prefer pavilion’s cozy chairs to the tormented stay at the crease. Since play started late on day 1, a session on day 2 was washed out and match ended before the end of the day 3, the ignominious defeat technically came in two-and-a-half days. It was a sad comedown from their heroics at Lords, less than three weeks ago.

For MS Dhoni, winning the toss and opting to bat could not have been more disastrous on the opening day. It was an unqualified submission to swing by Indians and even before tea time, the innings folded for 152. Nearly half that score was compiled by the captain and other half by two batsmen, one of whom came in as a change bowler into the team. Eight batsmen scored less than 4 runs and six of them collected ducks. The bowlers tried to wrest some initiative by quickly taking some early wickets but failed to capitalize. Heavy downpour ruled out any further play a little after lunch on the second day but by that time England had raced to a sizeable lead. On third day, unimaginative bowling, over-optimism and poor fielding allowed England to swell the lead to 215 runs after India had reduced England to 170/6 on the second day. With weather conditions helping the bowlers, India’s batting collapsed after a reasonable start. Even those batsmen, who had been considered dependable, fell to cheap strokes and India suffered one of their worst losses in test match history.

India made three changes in the team that lost the Southampton test. Shikhar Dhawan made way for Gautam Gambhir, Ravichandran Ashwin came for Rohit Sharma and Varun Aaron replaced Mohammed Shami. In the fourth over of the first innings, Gambhir misread the swing and shaped for a leg-side shot. But the ball moved away to take a thick edge of Gambhir’s bat and flew to Joe Root at Gully. India were 8/1 then. In the next 12 balls, England removed three more Indian batsmen and the score was still 8. All these batsmen were “duckies”. In the fifth over, Murali Vijay was seduced to a curvaceous beauty from Anderson that kissed his bat and went to Alistair Cook at first slip. Next on line, in the same over, was Virat Kohli, who was drawn into a nick by Anderson for Cook to take another catch. Another man, another duck and then yet another in the sixth over, when Cheteshwar Pujara, who couldn’t keep the edged shot down and Chris Jordan brought off a marvelous blinder of a catch. With India reeling at 8/4, MS Dhoni joined Ajinkya Rahane and these two carried the score to 62 but pretty soon India lost two more wickets. Rahane lost his cool and shaped for a needless drive that went to Bell on the second slip and then Jadeja was trapped leg before for another duck by India’s batsmen. Dhoni had Ashwin for company and they carried the score to 129 before Ashwin went for 40 well compiled runs in the face of adversity. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the next to go on duck, when Stuart Broad angled in a ball that hit his off stump. In 47th over, India’s innings came to an end for 152, when a slog from Dhoni was taken in the deep and Pankaj Singh followed 3 balls later.

England didn’t have a great beginning with Bhuvneshwar Kumar removing Sam Robson and Varun Aaron accounting for Alistair Cook. Aaron also removed Gary Ballance, who had begun to look ominous and England ended the day with 113/3. On second day, spirited bowling by Indian seamers brought some hope as Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed Chris Jordan and Ian Bell and Aaron took the wicket of Moeen Ali to make it 170/6 for England. Since the lead was still slender, this was the time to apply pressure. But Joe Root and Joss Buttler thwarted the Indian bowlers and reached 237/6, before heavy rains stopped play. On third day, England consolidated to 304, before Root gave a pleasure to Pankaj Singh in the form of his first test-match wicket. Pankaj Singh also took Buttler’s wicket later but by the time England were all out for 367, they had amassed a 215-run lead over India.

India began cautiously afterwards, but lost lost Murali Vijay just before tea. Until the score of 53, when Gambhir got out, the wickets began to tumble like nine pins in a bowling alley. From 53/1, India slipped to 66/6 with batsmen indulging in some serious catching practice to England fielders. Dhoni and Ashwin attempted another act of resurrection but they too succumbed to the lure of hitting the short-pitched balls or committing other errors. The second innings finally came to an end at 161, giving England a massive victory by an innings and 54 runs. Moeen Ali, who had taken six second innings wickets at Southampton, finished with 4 wickets at Old Trafford. The conclusion was so rapid that it became difficult to remember that England started the day at 237/6. Indian bowlers couldn’t make any impression on later batsmen and floundered woefully, when they batted themselves.