Bikash Mohapatra reports from the County ground in Northamptonshire
Practice doesn't make Team India [ Images ] perfect.
How else can one explain India's sordid show in the two-day game against Northamptonshire that concluded at the County ground on Saturday?
The visitors scored 352, and the home team replied with 355 for seven when stumps were drawn.
Mal Love hit an aggressive 100 while Niall O'Brien smashed 117. The duo put on 201 runs for the opening wicket, hitting the Indian bowlers all over the park in the process.
It was not just the fact that the Northants mounted a strong reply to the Indian total. It was about the manner in which they went about their reply, smashing every bowler to submission.
Even the spearhead, Zaheer Khan [ Images ], wasn't spared. In the three overs he bowled before leaving the field, the 32-year-old conceded a whopping 24 runs.
The other bowlers, including the spin option Mishra, had problems overstepping. It was a disappointing effort with the ball, to say the least.
Not that the one with the bat was good enough.
Resuming at their overnight score (327 for seven), the visitors added 25 more to their total before being bowled out.
Mishra completed a well-deserved half century (61) and was involved in a 61-run partnership with Sreesanth (25). Luke Evans dismissed both the batsmen to finish with impressive figures of four for 74.
If the Indians had hoped to get some much-needed confidence from this two-day fixture, all that was in store for them was more disappointment, adding to the twin Test losses at Lord's and Trent Bridge.
The result went on to reiterate the fact that they weren't taking the practice matches seriously. They were ordinary in the tour opener against Somerset at Taunton, and below par against Northants.
With Zaheer almost certain to miss out, one can only hope that the Indian team performs better in Edgbaston (Birmingham), where the third Test starts in four days.
India (1st Innings):
Gautam Gambhir [ Images ] lbw b Willey 18
Virender Sehwag [ Images ] lbw b Burton 8
Abhinav Mukund retired hurt 113
VVS Laxman [ Images ] c Newton b Daggett 49
Suresh Raina [ Images ] c Murphy b Evans 33
M S Dhoni [ Images ] c Murphy b Evans 2
Wriddhiman Saha run out 15
Amit Mishra b Evans 61
Zaheer Khan c White b Best 12
S Sreesanth c sub b Evans 25
Munaf Patel not out 2
Extras: (lb-10, w-3, nb-1) 14
Total: (All out in 95.3 overs) 352
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-49, 3-181, 4-231, 5-237, 6-269, 7-284 8-345, 9-352
Bowling: Burton 20-4-66-1, Evans 21.3-2-74-4, Willey 18-3-68-1, Daggett 19-3-52-1, Best 17-1-82-1.
Northamptonshire (1st innings):
M Loye c Dhoni b Patel 100
N O'Brien c Dhoni b Mishra 117
R White lbw b Mishra 25
R Newton c sub b Patel 3
D Sales lbw b Sreesanth 11
D Willey c sub b Sreesanth 12
D Murphy not out 26
P Best lbw b Raina 1
D Burton not out 36
Extras: (b-6, lb-1, w-4, nb-13) 24
Total: (For 7 wkts in 83.2 overs) 355
Fall of wickets: 1-201, 2-261, 3-262, 4-264, 5-289, 6-300, 7-301
Bowling: Zaheer 3-0-24-0, Sreesanth 16-1-74-2, Munaf 17-2-91-2, Mishra 25-2-64-2, Raina 16-1-68-1, Dhoni 3-0-13-0, Gambhir 3.2-0-14-0.