Cow Corner

Indian press savage own team

The fans who came in to Eden Gardens on day five saw 83 balls of cricket. They saw 49 runs and four wickets, but only one result — a foregone one.

England had done more than enough in four days to allow themselves a mini-collapse on the fifth and still win with something to spare. Who knows — given how they dominated, losing early wickets may simply have been an elaborate ruse to allow the misfiring Ian Bell to play himself back into form ahead of the final Test in Nagpur.

When Alastair Cook was born on Christmas Day of 1984 England were knee-deep in the last series they won against India. Since that tour they had triumphed in just one more match in India — a rousing victory in Mumbai in 2006. In that context, two wins in two weeks looks really rather good.

But while England celebrate, the post-mortem in India was already underway.

If you believe the pressure on sportsmen on these shores can verge on the excruciating, you may have some sympathy for MS Dhoni and company. Alternatively, if you're an angry India fan, you might wonder how the team have been spared the full wrath of the press for so long.

Still, when a leading paper, the Times of India, uses their front page to propose an XI for the fourth Test with six changes and a new captain, Virat Kohli, you sense the scale of the fury as the cricket heads to Nagpur on Thursday. Even Sachin Tendulkar, whose place is normally not under discussion, is not spared.

How many of those changes happen remain to be seen — a squad announcement is expected in the next 24 hours — but if India are to fight back and deny England a series victory, it will come against the backdrop of a nation who have lost faith in their national team.

WHAT THEY SAID

Times of India

We've been cleaned up; it's time for a clean up

"Just when disheartened fans of Indian cricket think things can't possibly get any worse, they promptly do. Few teams would have got away without wholesale purges after losing 8 Tests out of 8 played in England and Australia. But apart from Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who graciously quit, all the other players remained unscathed, including captain M S Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher.

"… It's no use complaining about Indian curators not providing helpful pitches either, because on current form, this English team - man to man - is superior to ours. Their spinners look far better equipped to exploit turning tracks; their pacers are extracting significantly more dangerous reverse swing. The English are beating us in our backyard; worse still, they are almost toying with us while doing so.

"… This Indian team fields terribly, bowls pathetically and capitulates cravenly while batting. After compiling a dismal 0-8 overseas record, and trailing 1-2 in a series in which we are supposed to enjoy the home advantage, how can it hurt to experiment?"

Hindustan Times

Can Team India get any worse?

"Once England complete the final rites at Eden Gardens on Sunday, India's score against respectable opposition in Tests — starting with the series against England in England last year — will be 1-10. This will be the first time since 1999-2000 that we have lost two consecutive Tests at home.

"Before the glorious period of 2000-2010 — when India won more Tests away from home than in any other decade — we were trounced overseas, but used to be heroes at home.

"As a cricketing nation, we have hit one of our lowest points. It matters little if India win the fourth Test in Nagpur. We need an overhaul. We need a roadmap."

Lost in the garden of Eden

"The bright side of India's humiliation on Saturday was that Test cricket would not have to stand up to a duel of popularity against local football and face another reality check. Tickets for the season's first city derby between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan on Sunday afternoon at the 100,000-capacity Salt Lake stadium are sold out. In the morning at Eden though, India and England will be here again to complete the formalities. India lead by 32 runs with just one wicket in hand.

"The darkest side of the humiliation would be a fight to sudden death, between India's middle-order and the bowling attack to prove which is worse. Fielding will come, a very close third."

The Hindu

'India needs to get priorities right'

'"Now they will sack the curator of the Cricket Association of Bengal, I guess,' said Bishan Singh Bedi, outspoken as ever, when asked about India's impending defeat to England in the third Test at the Eden Gardens.

"'I think the Indians are paying for their lack of preparation and an obsession with avenging the 4-0 whitewash in England last year,' he said. 'After they lost so badly in Mumbai, why couldn't they have gone to Kolkata well in advance to prepare for this Test?'"

The Telegraph India

Nine go down, like ninepins

"The simple truth is that the Indians haven't learnt their lessons from the Mumbai debacle. The virtues of Test cricket are absent and the proliferation of one-day cricket is weighing heavy on the batsmen's technique.

"Let's stop boasting of our envious home record and admit that we are a very ordinary Test side. Our bowling is one of the worst in the world, the fielding deplorable and the batting lacks application."

Absolute humiliation has been avoided, not embarrassment

"Speaking exclusively, former India captain and coach Kapil Dev said: "I don't want to pick the XI for the next Test, but changes have to be made... We're talking of the batting and the bowling, but what about the fielding?

"One can carry 'excess baggage' to a point only... Till such time that the team is winning... Once you begin to lose, you can't hide anybody... The contribution of some players has to be reviewed... Try out the Ajinkya Rahanes."

Cricinfo

From magic to harsh reality for India at Eden

"Even those living in a fantasy world created by spin doctors they choose to surround themselves with can't turn their backs to this debacle. Sport is a lot about denying. About denying your physical limitations, strong opposition, the elements. You need to psyche yourself up. Openers need to tell themselves they will be all right against the new ball being hurled at them at close to 150kmph. Tennis players tell themselves they can last five hours in the Melbourne heat in January.

"India, though, have lived in a different kind of denial for the last 18 months. In their minds they are still the world's No. 1 in Tests and should have won the World Twenty20 but for five minutes of rain. Somewhere down the line this team changed from one that was bitterly disappointed at coming back from South Africa with a 1-1 draw to one that was indifferent to two whitewashes, looking for excuses and not reasons.

"It is ironic that it has taken a defeat at their field of dreams, where magic happens, to give them the reality check they desperately need. It was cold. It was logical. It was brutal."