Recently, when Dhoni was asked about the lack of warm up matches, whenever India tour abroad, he replied saying that, in an ideal world that would be great, but we don’t live in an ideal world. Well, the last time I checked, BCCI live in the same world where ECB also live. You just have to take a look at the contrasting performances of England and India, to realize the importance of warm up matches. It doesn’t matter how early you come to acclimatise, until you practice in a match situation. Due to this, everytime India play abroad, they are on the backfoot immediately, and play catch-up cricket for the rest of the tour. It would have been better if India had this collapse in a warm up; then they could have made whatever adjustments necessary.
This match or series is not lost yet, by any means. If this had happened four years ago, I would have written them off; but this team is number 1 for a reason. They have always found a way to fight back; and I believe that this will still be a tight contest. As much as it was disappointing to see the failures of Gambhir, Dravid, Raina etc, it was heartening to see the way Sachin, Dhoni and Harbhajan played. If the rest of the batsmen can play in a similar, confident vein, in the second innings, it will be easier for the bowlers. Despite Zak’s absence, I think these conditions are suited to Sharma and Sreesanth. So, it will be fascinating to watch, how this unfolds yet.
I am not taking any credit away from the Saffers. Steyn and Morkel walked the talk, and bruised some Indian egos, by the manner of their dismissals. Boucher’s run-out of Harbhajan was an example of smart cricket. So, they have made a strong statement on day 1 of the test. Now, it is up to India to return the favor.