'Team India went to England without doing their homework'
'When you are doing well you need to keep addressing the weaknesses.'
Former India spinner Maninder Singh says the Indian team did not, and, as a result, the standard went down considerably in the just-concluded Test series in England.
Ajinkya Rahane was one of India’s best performers early on during the Test series in England. His 103 in the first innings of the second Test at Lord's was the cornerstone in the visitors’ first win at the venue in 28 years.
The 26-year-old also registered half centuries in both the innings of the third Test at Southampton. However, in the last two matches his form slumped, to the detriment of a team that was in decline.
"Rahane had no pressure in the first three games. He just went there and played his game," said Maninder Singh, analysing the young batsman's performance.
"But once he scored those runs, especially that hundred at Lord's, he was under pressure, more so because the others were underperforming," continued the former cricketer, adding, "In the next two matches he was double-minded whether to play the ball or defend it.
"Else, why would a batsman get out in the same manner (caught and bowled) three-four times?"
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Image: Virat Kohli
Photographs: Clint Hughes/Getty Images
'Kohli and Pujara disappointed because they didn't do their homework'
For the record, Rahane registered scores of 24, 1, 0 and 4 in his last four innings, giving a return catch to the bowler in two of those outings.
What put added pressure on Rahane was the fact that both of India’s batting mainstays, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, performed well below expectations.
While Kohli endured the worst series of his fledgling career, aggregating a paltry 134 in his last five Tests, Pujara fared a tad better, scored 222 runs from an equal number of matches.
"I've always maintained that the homework you do during a series matters a lot. Team India went to England with doing theirs," explained Maninder.
"Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, who were expected to shoulder a bulk of the batting responsibilities, disappointed because they didn't do their homework.
"When you are doing well you need to keep addressing the weaknesses. This is something that the Indian team, in general, never did. As a result the standard went down considerably."
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Image: Ajinkya Rahane during a training session
Photographs: Philip Brown/Reuters
'Dhoni won't be sacked'
With the humiliating 3-1 defeat, India’s third straight series loss to England, there's increasing pressure on captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with many demanding that he be sacked.
"Dhoni won't be sacked," retorted Maninder, when asked the about same.
"Who would you give the command to? There's nobody who has performed to be handed the responsibility."
The former India spinner proceeded to explain that though it is not possible at the moment, there could be a change in captaincy in the near future.
"I don't think Dhoni will play Test cricket for long. If and when he says no, the selectors will be forced to think and take some hard decisions,
"Despite his poor record overseas, Dhoni has been immensely successful in India. I hope whoever comes next doesn't fall for the same template and works with a different mindset and strategy," reasoned Maninder.
Image: India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Photographs: Scott Heavey/Getty Images