India head to Nagpur for the fourth and final Test in disarray. Home advantage failed them in Mumbai and they were comprehensively outplayed on a good wicket in Kolkata. England have all the momentum and India are now in serious danger of losing their first home series in eight years and their first home series to England in 28 years. They have also lost Umesh Yadav to injury and the selectors have dropped Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, so the bowling attack will be at its most inexperienced in years. Coupled with the capitulation in Kolkata, this team needs to have a fire lit underneath it and the man to do that is still MS Dhoni.
It is time he put aside his “Captain Cool” persona and made an emotional appeal to the squad. Here’s the speech we think he should give on the eve of the Test.
You know me. I like to keep an even keel. I like to stay on top of my emotions. I try to treat winning and losing the same way. That allows me to make decisions in the moment and not worry about consequences. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about winning and losing. Losing hurts. It always has. If you are a professional sportsman and losing doesn’t hurt, then something is wrong.
Right now, all of us should be hurting. If any of you are not, then you can get up and leave the dressing room. If any of you don’t believe we can come back and win in Nagpur, then you can get up and leave the dressing room.
Maybe we took beating England a little bit for granted after Ahmedabad. That’s on me. But now we are in a corner and there is only one way out of it and that is to fight. To fight for every run, for every wicket. We have to back ourselves and each other. We have to come off that field at the end of five days knowing we gave everything. That we fought every ball, every session, every day. That we fought as a team.
This Test is not about which team has more ability. You guys have plenty of ability. Don’t listen to what the media says. They have to sell newspapers. And sometimes teams get outplayed. That is the nature of sport. What is not acceptable is being soft. What is not acceptable is simply accepting this situation and pretending it is business as usual. What this Test is going to come down to is, will. Desire. Hunger. Belief. It is about wanting it more than England It is about wanting to go out there and make England hurt the way we are hurting now.
Yes, we are a team in transition. Any side is going to miss players like Dravid and Laxman. But we should use them as inspiration now. If those two were here in this room, they would want to make England suffer. They would want to pay them back for the pain of losing in Mumbai and Kolkata. They would put a price on their wickets. And they would be ready, mentally and physically, for the challenge. That’s the legacy we have to live up to. That’s the standard we have to maintain.
Is that fair? Perhaps not. But life is not about fair. Life is about meeting whatever challenges come your way head on. So when we go out there tomorrow, we have to go out there united. There are no short-cuts now. We do this as a team. We do this knowing the guy standing next to us wants to win as badly as we do; that he is willing to sacrifice and push himself because he knows you will do the same. We do this because otherwise this team dies. That’s the choice – living or dying.
No England team has won in India for 28 years. I don’t plan on being the captain that loses that record. I look around and I know you don’t want to be the team that loses that record. So let’s go out on the field and prove it to the world.
(Time for the huddle…)