NORTHAMPTON, Aug 3 (PTI): Trailing 0-2 and with their world number one ranking at stake, India are left with no option but to bat out of their skin to salvage their reputation in the four-match Test series against England.
After suffering the two crushing defeats at Lord�s and Trent Bridge, India�s revival now squarely depends on their batting engine.
If not anything else, the visitors should be fired up after Kevin Pietersen�s comments where he said that the Indians cannot play swing, even as the rest of the world wonders how good are they when faced with short-pitched stuffs.
Although the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and VVS Laxman have fared pretty well over the years in the land where swing is the king, they are yet to live up to their huge reputation this time around.
Tendulkar began his journey of century-making in international cricket in England itself in 1990 and, over the past 21 years, have played 15 Tests, scoring 1420 runs with four centuries and five half-centuries at an average of 56.80.
And that record in itself must stifle the murmurs about his lack of mastery over James Anderson yet.
Rahul Dravid, if anything, has done better with 1177 runs from 11 Tests, striking five hundreds and four fifties at an average of 69.24. By his own admission, he likes visiting England and there�s no prize for guessing why.
VVS Laxman, however, has only 528 runs from nine Tests at an average of 40.62 and, without a century to show.
Meanwhile, Virender Sehwag, who is all set to join the squad for the remaining Tests after missing out on the first two because of a shoulder injury, has 239 runs from four Tests with a century and half-century at an average of 39.50. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, facing the heat for the first time in his career, has 258 runs from five Tests at 32.25 and is without a century, while Gautam Gambhir has just the Lord�s Test under his belt.
So, apart from a couple of them, the Indian batting scoresheet isn�t too inspiring. And it gets even more daunting when one takes a look at England�s present attack - it has never been so good in the past. The pace quartet of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Tim Bresnan have had a withering effect on the Indian batting so far in the series.
It�s well documented that playing from the crease does not help against swing bowling.
So, in that context, it is noticeable how prepared Dravid has been to come completely forward at times, if required, to neutralise a swinging delivery.
Whereas batsmen with minimal footwork like Sehwag and Laxman been relatively unsuccessful here in their otherwise astounding Test careers.
Indians, now, are left with little choice but to sort out their batting woes at the earliest.
Considering that they have only one warm-up game besides a few intense net sessions with simulated help from the bowling machine before the remaining two Tests in Edgbaston and The Oval, it seemed an uphill task for India.