India In Disbelief Over Loss Of No. 1 Ranking
New Delhi, Aug 14: India's loss of the world No. 1 test ranking to England was met with disbelief at home on Sunday, with one major newspaper calling it a “humiliation.”
England routed India by an innings and 242 runs in the third test at Edgbaston on Saturday, giving the home side a 3-0 lead in the four-test series and allowing it to claim the top ranking.
England will jump from No. 3 to No. 1 for the first time since 1979 at the end of the series when the list is updated. India will drop to No. 2 or 3 below South Africa depending on the result of next week's last test at The Oval.
The Hindustan Times ran a banner headline atop its front page on Sunday reading, “India surrenders No. 1 test spot.”
The Times of India went with the headline “RIP. World's No. 1 test team,” while the Indian Express said the team's “humiliation is complete.”
Former Australia captain Ian Chappell, as well as India greats Sunil Gavaskar and Anil Kumble, were among those who weighed in on the Indian side's descent after 20 months at the top.
Chappell blamed India's national selectors for not planning ahead.
“The selectors' failure to address issues like an aging batting lineup, a declining off-spinner and substandard fielding in the five-day game, has finally come home to roost,” Chappell wrote in the Hindustan Times.
“(Off-spinner) Harbhajan Singh has long been a better defensive bowler than an attacking weapon. And while Amit Mishra is a steady leg-spinner who has some value in Australia, he needs the faster bowlers taking early wickets to be effective.”
Gavaskar criticized captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's field placements in an interview with the NDTV 24x7 news channel and lamented the lack of athleticism among players in a column in The Times of India.
“The English batsmen have converted ones into twos and twos into threes quite comfortably and the athleticism has also been a big difference between the two teams,” Gavaskar wrote in the column.
Kumble also noted the team's lack of fitness and said injuries to frontline players Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh in recent months had disrupted the team's chemistry.
“There is something very Indian about lack of fitness—not too many players are keen on the hard work and the sacrifices that go towards keeping them at their peak in crucial series,” he wrote in a column in The Hindu newspaper.
Former India allrounder Mohinder Amarnath said he felt a No. 1 team could not justify such a shoddy performance in the series and the selectors had cause for concern after the batting lineup failed to reach the 300-run mark.
“Even at the end of their careers, we expect the likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman to bail us out and when they don't, we see the results. I feel this is a genuine concern for Indian cricket,” he wrote in The Times of India.
Meanwhile, the Indian cricket board has promised to look into the reasons for the poor performance.
“We are very concerned with the performance of the Indian test team,” Rajiv Shukla, vice president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, was quoted as saying in The Times of India. “We will sit down and analyze what went wrong before taking corrective measures.” AP