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    How India got knocked off their perch

    Zaheer Khan

    Zaheer Khan's injury came as a body blow for India's chances in the series (AP PHOTO)

    New Delhi: When India lost the first Test at Lord's, it was thought that they were just given a bloody nose by England and the visitors will come strongly in the Tests to come. But their performance went from bad to worse in the next two games. Following could well be the reasons behind India's pathetic show in a series termed as 'marquee' by both former players and cricket pundits.

    Zaheer Khan's injury: Losing Zaheer Khan, India's premier pacer, on the first day of the opening Test came as a body blow to Team India. It also made the biggest impact on their performance from that point on. The 32-year-old has played a pivotal role in taking India to the No. 1 spot and has been a prolific wicket-taker throughout this period. He has not only led the team's bowling unit but also served as a mentor to the likes of Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and S Sreesanth. His injury could well be the 'series-changing' moment.

    Kevin Pietersen's double ton: It has often been said that the South Africa-born cricketer is a big match player. Someone who loves challenges and always brings the best out of himself whenever being pushed back. The tall batsman took full toll of the injury-ravaged Indian bowling unit by hitting a match-winning double century in the first Test at Lord’s. His knock also gave the English side a head start, which they continued in the next two Tests.

    Sachin Tendulkar's illness: Things started going from bad to worse for the Indians in the first Test. First an injury to Zaheer Khan, then Gautam Gambhir after getting hit while fielding at short leg, and then viral fever to the little master. It also made India shake-up their batting order, with Gambhir coming at No. 4 and Sachin at 5. India lost the match by 196 runs.

    Out-of-form MS Dhoni: It's only the Birmingham Test (third Test of the series) when the Indian captain showed the glimpse of his usual self. But before that, he was in terrible form with the bat and gloves. Dhoni’s below-par performance directly affected his captaincy as he took some bizarre decisions while leading the team on the field.

    Off-colour Harbhajan Singh: India wanted their leading spinner, especially someone who has taken over 400 Test wickets, to come into the series well prepared. But instead of providing important breakthroughs to the team, Harbhajan bowled awfully and then broke down, going out of the series with an abdominal strain.

    Unsettled opening combination: In the absence of Virender Sehwag at the top of the batting order, India tried Abhinav Mukund with Gautam Gambhir in the first Test. But the 21-year-old could not live up to the expectation and an injury to Gambhir only made matters worse for the side. Dravid, despite his displeasure, was once again asked to open with Mukund in the second innings of the Test.

    No quality back-up spinner: After the ineffectiveness of Harbhajan Singh, India tried Amit Mishra in the Birmingham Test. And though the leg-spinner gave India a few lower-order wickets, he was unable to control the purchase he was getting from the wicket. And the number of times he overstepped in England's first innings was both surprising as well as frustrating.

    Experiment with Yuvraj Singh: The 29-year-old has already had 11 years in international cricket and was yearning to get back into the Test side. But he looked as uncomfortable with the short balls as his teammate Suresh Raina. And it was his ineffective in handling the delivery that led to the finger injury he suffered off the bowling of Tim Bresnan, which ruled him out after just two Tests.

    Alastair Cook's monumental knock: No one had hoped that the 26-year-old Essex player, who has been in the form of his life in the last one year, would not score runs in the first two Tests. But Cook came into form with a bang by scoring 294 in the first innings of the third Test. He was awarded man-of-the-match for his magnificent batting display, which handed India their third biggest defeat in Test history.