Reckoning at Nagpur
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A team in transition, India must aim to regain its balance in the final Test with England
A beleaguered Indian team, reeling from two losses in a four-match Test series after a seven-wicket defeat against England at Kolkata, must go into the final Test at Nagpur with a sense of purpose. As the old guard falters, Nagpur will see a team in transition, struggling to regain balance. Indian hopes rest on its younger players stepping up and proving their mettle.There are two clear spots up for grabs: Yuvraj Singh's at No. 6 and Zaheer Khan's in the bowling unit. Medium-pacers Parvinder Awana and Ashok Dinda will be called upon to fill the Zaheer void. An impressive debut by either one of them will provide hope for the future, given that India's fast-bowling cupboard is rather empty.
Improving basic skills, which is easier than getting players to score big runs or take five-wicket hauls, must be the focus of attention ahead of Nagpur. Poor running by Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, a pair usually known to have telepathic understanding when it comes to taking singles, resulted in the former being run out in the first innings at Kolkata and critically damaging India's chances of building a 450-plus innings total. Dhoni must also ensure that specialist fielders are placed in the appropriate positions. At Eden, Cheteshwar Pujara was asked to field at first slip when he was still geared up for duty at short leg. He dropped a catch offered by Alastair Cook. The England skipper was on 17 at the time, he went on to score 190.
It has been eight years since Australia beat India 2-1 to become the last visiting team to win a Test series on Indian soil. At Nagpur — incidentally, the venue at which Australia beat India by 342 runs — India must not let go of the opportunity to draw level with England.
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