Opinion: India can't possibly win the series
Right, something needs to cleared up, stop all this talk of a finely-balanced, tense series. India cannot possibly win this match, or this series, and here's why, writes Scott Oliver.
Right, something needs to cleared up, stop all this talk of a finely-balanced, tense series. India cannot possibly win this match, or this series, and here's why:
1. MS Dhoni patented the helicopter shot. Now he's behaving like a chopper. Seriously, bleating to the ICC (yes, that crew) about the verdict from the Jadanderson Trial. What next: a full investigation into whether Stuart Broad, when asked to pass the salt at lunch on Day 3 at Lord's, slid it far enough across the table for it to be considered having been properly and rightfully passed? Perhaps Dhoni's obsessive insistence on stationing a leg slip at all times is to subliminally convince the administrators that, actually, we are back in the 1950s and, really, these chit-chattings from the bowler isn't on.
2. Jimmy Anderson's sledging has eroded their self-esteem in what seems to be some sort of esteem osmosis, given that Oh-Jimmy-Jimmy's reason for all this querulous chirping appears to be to cover over a lack of presence on the field. Play the Tourette's card, Jimmy, for fucking, bollocking, shitting's sake!
3. Talking of Jimmy, Jadu can't bowl to Dhoni's fields. Here's why. Due to the oddly sacrosanct status accorded our beef-bestowing bovine buddies by the good people of India – for instance, allowing urban cows to jaywalk the streets of already ludicrously congested and chaotic cities – it is almost certain that there will be sacred proscriptions preventing MS Dhoni from stationing fielders in Cow Corner. It's for cows, see. And cows, the great big docile, four-stomached milk-gushers, can do what they want. In India, they're streetcows, and as such own the streets. Given that Moeen, Cook, Ballance and Broad are all going to moo him in that direction, that's a problem. Veneration of rumination is the generation of ruination.
4. Virat Kohli can't resist a nibble. I don't know who Anushka is, and don't really buy the idea that Kohli's being distracted from honing his cover drive by her, nibble or no nibble, but he's not playing ODIs with a dewy ball now, the lad.
5. Bhuvi is a spent force. After his nuggety displays at Trent Bridge and Lord's – taking care of cricket's essentials, like runs, wickets and 40-yard dashes to tap fielders on the bum – it became clear at Southampton that, when all is said and done, he's only a county trundler who, in a previous life, would have been five notches behind Saj Mahmood in Big Dunc's pecking order. Just behind Pankaj, in fact. No, the world has taken to cute little Bhuvi because he represents a triumph of ordinariness, albeit with craft, guile, nous. 'I could almost bowl like him', we think, deluded and sofa-bound berks that we are. 'I only need another 7mph'… Yes, I'm starting to contradict myself. No, he's not going to surprise us any more. In fact, I think his deeds in the first two games were some fiendish plan to keep him in the side whilst simultaneously making the series more exciting.
6. Obstinacy's Duncan Fletcher is going to pick Dhawan again. There's only one problem with that. He has a major technical flaw. He can't bat. We've all been blinded by his 'tache. (Wrong! – Ed)
7. When, however, he does pick Gautam Gambhir, the latter will be Jos Buttler's first stumping in Test cricket. That shuffle down to inside-out it over extra cover will be his undoing. Trying to be too assertive – 'I'm Indian, I won't let you bowl me this; I have to prove myself to Big Dunc, but my eyes are starting to go' – will be his undoing. Surrender like Virender, G. It will be less painful in the end.
8. After years of subcontinent-visiting, English cricketers suffering from – or complaining of – 'Delhi Belly', shitting as though someone were trying to pass a molten starfish through their guts, the ECB have worked out that it's about time the Indian tourists ate some dodgy English nosh and had a couple of billion British bacillus get their micro-crampons into the intestinal walls of Pujara and friends. Think of the sledging possibilities: "All the gear, but you've got diarrhoea." In Manchester, the Indians have been served the local delicacy – greasy spoon food: polystyrene scrambled eggs, slimy tinned mushrooms that look like smoker's catarrh in puddles, sodden fried bread, superannuated ox-bollock sausages, pseudo-bacon and baked beans – and will not be better off for it. 'Poo-jarrer', indeed. It's sure to affect 'Flat as a' Pankaj and Mo Shami. Just you watch.
9. Murali Vijay has finally reached his boredom threshold with cricket. First, he bats in a fleece in scorchio weather: 'Yawn, I think I'll have a sauna'. Next he can't really be bothered to run flat out in order to preserve his wicket. His career is clearly now on an irreversible downward arc.
10 Asking R Ashwin to come in and save the day having been omitted on helpful pitches is akin to asking a man who you imprisoned for terrorism for 26 years, partially blinding, to come and solve the nation's ills when you let him out. It ain't gonna happen.
11 Our Dads are harder than their Dads. We have conquered them before (literally conquered, not just at cricket). They have never conquered us. Go figure. Do the math. Go get the figures and do the math. Or, don't bother, 'cos it's one-effing-nil to the In-ger-lund and, thanks to the Treaty of Versailles, that's the way it's going to stay, irrespective of their nuclear capability (which I don't believe they have) and billion-strong population ripe for transformation into a war machine. Suck on that, N Srinivasanavananan.
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