In the morning of the fourth day of the second Test between England and India the home side completed the mental disorientation of their opponents, not by words, but by deeds – lots and lots of them – 544 of them – as England batted on with Prior making 73 from 107 balls, Bresnen 90 from 146 and Broad 44 from 59 until their last wicket fell.
Dismantlement followed disorientation.
Only twice in England’s second innings had an Indian bowler found the savage life in the Trent Bridge wicket and the prodigious movement through the Nottingham air that had been the feature of the first two days.
The England bowlers proceeded to find it almost every ball.
Dravid could not really be expected to ‘do it again’ and he did not, edging Broad to Prior. Laxman was bowled by a fittingly ‘special delivery’ fromAndersonfor 4. How often in his long and distinguished career will Laxman have been bowled for 4?
So, Tendulka had been brought to the wicket with only 13 runs on the board.
Around his class and patience the edifice crumbled: Mukund simply could not cope; Raina personified degeneration, his weakness to the short ball now cruelly exposed; the mighty Yuvraj humbled by a barrage of the short stuff found his fingers crushed and his mind deconstructed; a dazed and confused Dhoni was dismissed first ball padding-up, a state that ultimately infected Tendulka who repeated the misjudgement.
It was 107 for 7 and the day but half done. Harbhajan and Kumar swiped. The score limped to 158 at which point Humpty lay in a thousand pieces with the world champions beaten by 319 runs, their second loss in two matches of a four match series.
The three England pacemen had matched the belligerence of the batters on the day before; Bresnan taking 5 for 48, Anderson 3 for 51 and Broad 2 for 30.
Broad was made Man of the Match if for nothing else, then, for the amazing counterattack he led on the first day.
It is worth recalling that when Broad came to the wicket, in that moment, England were at the mercy of India on 117 for 7 and, also that in their first innings, India were at one point 267 for 4, already 46 runs ahead of their opponents.
Mentally, England have proved themselves very tough, India very weak.
The question is: can Fletcher and some very great cricketers put India together again?