Cricket: India's magic moments

Click to follow
The Independent Online
WHEN a side loses a series as England have now it is not surprising that blame is being freely apportioned. This cannot be allowed to hide, however, the real reason for defeat, which in this instance is the overwhelming superiority of India.

England have been outplayed in every department of the game, admittedly in conditions which have been just about ideal for the Indian spin attack. But it would be stupid not to applaud and enjoy the excellent cricket the Indians have played.

Many excuses have been offered as ways of explaining England's defeat. They have gone from smog to food and on to the pitches and the umpires with many things in between. If England had never had a sick player and had won the toss in every Test match, I do not believe the result would have been much different.

On this penultimate day of the series there were for me five marvellous moments which illustrated the excellence and the superiority of the Indians. In the second over of the morning Chris Lewis pitched one short to Mohammad Azharuddin. He stepped back and stroked the ball between cover and mid-off as if his bat had been a feather duster or maybe even a magic wand. It was blissful.

Later, after lunch, John Emburey bowled to the left-handed Vinod Kambli. He pitched the ball on a length on middle and off. Kambli took a quick step-and-a- half down the pitch and with a lovely, flowing arc of the bat drove it first bounce wide of Mike Gatting at long-off for four. This stroke combined footwork, a good deal of wrist and any amount of flair.

Later still, Kapil Dev arrived at the crease. Lewis also pitched short, Kapil swivelled and hooked him along the ground in front of square leg for four with nothing short of a majestic insolence.

It was then England's turn to bat and Manoj Prabhakar knocked out Graham Gooch's middle stump with a near-perfect slower ball. Soon afterwards Prabhakar pitched one not so very short to Mike Atherton which exploded and flew at his chest, or a fraction higher, and Atherton could only edge it to the wicketkeeper. No England seam bowler was able to do that on a spinning pitch.