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Sledging wars: England are mouthing off and losing it

There was a time not very long ago when all it took to get the Indians out were a few choice, well placed words. If you were careful and timed it well, you would escape censure as well.

The Australians were past masters at it and this was in addition to being a very good team. It worked for them. South Africa did a good job of it especially when Mark Boucher and Andre Nel got into the act. The Pakistani players could be pretty vitriolic especially as the stakes in an India game were pretty high for them.

Now, England are getting into the act – or at least trying to. Alastair Cook’s side believe that the only way to win against India in India is to get the home team angry and slightly off-balance.

England's left-arm spinner of Indian origin Samit Patel has admitted that on-field verbal duels with Indian players have continued from the last series.

 Sledging wars: England are mouthing off and losing it

Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir are hard nuts to crack. Reuters

Patel was quoted by The Sun newspaper that they will carry on sledging in an attempt to ‘get the Indians out of their comfort zone.’

Patel said: "It carried on from the England series back home. Guys don't forget and I'm sure the Indians have had a bit of stick after we beat them 3-0. I don't think they were particularly happy with the way they played in England and they're trying to show us why."

The portly spinner also added: "I'm sure they love to give it out, so they can take a bit from us. We wanted to play a positive game of cricket and we didn't leave anything on the park.

"We want to get them out of their comfort zones. No one likes to target India in India because of the crowds and our guys would like to do that. England teams who have been here in the past have taken a backward step. I love the fact that our guys are taking it to them."

The portly spinner was right in one sense. They didn’t leave anything on the field because they were simply blown off it. England took it to India and came out on the losing side. That’s more like it. That's what Patel should have said.

The thing Cook’s side need to realise is that sledging alone isn’t going to win them matches. They need to back it up with good cricket as well. They did in England, but so far in India, they have been woefully short of the mark.

There were a few altercations between several England players and Indian batsmen Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir during the second ODI in Delhi. Jonathan Trott, in particular, was seen having a go at the duo. But the likes of Gambhir and Kohli are mentally very sound and motivated.

More than anything the act of sledging is only an indication of how desperate England really are. This tactic is, simply put, pitiful and not taking the game anywhere. Have England already accepted that they can't beat India through normal cricket?

Since Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, India has found its voice. Under Dravid, they were determined. And Dhoni’s team sees itself as champions, as the elite. That line of thinking may not work every time, but for most part India believes in its own dream – even if its mostly at home.

Sledging will only make India team more determined to return the favour to England with interest. And with the crowd egging them on, it could get pretty bad for England. The victories in the first two ODIs were remarkable for the ease with which India came out on top. And it should serve as a lesson to the visitors: If you are talking all the time, you can’t be giving cricket much thought.

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Updated Date: Oct 19, 2011 13:28:44 IST