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India in England: Duncan Fletcher in the line of Farokh Engineer’s fire

Former India wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer lamented the team’s “embarrassing” innings and 54-run defeat by England in the third Test at Old Trafford on Saturday, criticising both the players and coach Duncan Fletcher.

“This was embarrassing,” said the 76-year-old Engineer, who played 46 Tests from 1961-1975. “India shot themselves in the foot right from the moment they decided to bat on a green top surface,” added Engineer, who spent several seasons at Old Trafford playing for the successful Lancashire side of the 1970s.

And he said Fletcher, a former England coach, ought to have told India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to field first, rather than bat. “Fletcher is very, very highly paid, surely he can read the pitch and advise Dhoni accordingly?” India, after Dhoni won the toss and batted, collapsed to eight for four inside six overs on Thursday.

They then lost nine second-innings wickets after tea on Saturday as England won with more than two days to spare to go 2-1 up in the five-Test series ahead of next week’s finale at The Oval. It was the first time England had won a Test against India inside three days since a 132-run victory at Birmingham’s Edgbaston ground back in 1967 — a match in which Engineer played.

“There was no backbone shown by India,” said Engineer as he reflected on Saturday’s loss. “India played without any care or passion, like having a Saturday afternoon slog.” Meanwhile Engineer also criticised the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s ongoing opposition to the use of the Decision Review System (DRS) in matches involving their national side.

“The DRS is absolutely haunting India because a lot of the decisions have gone against them. I don’t know when they’ll open their eyes and wake up. They’ve got to embrace DRS,” Engineer insisted. “The ICC (International Cricket Council) are just not firm enough, can they not put pressure on India? All the other countries have agreed to it, why can’t you?”

India can still level the series at The Oval in south London, where the fifth Test starts on Friday, but will need a vastly improved display from their struggling batsmen. In particular they will hope that the highly-rated Virat Kohli, who has scored only 108 runs in the series at an average of 13.5, finds his form.

“There is only a bit of pride to play for because they’ve been humiliated. I dare not see the papers in India, they must be so critical, and rightly so,” Engineer said. “Virat Kohli came here with a great reputation and has just not taken off, he has been out to silly deliveries.”

Sunil Gavaskar, Engineer’s former India team-mate, was equally critical. “There were was no backbone shown by India,” said Gavaskar. “They showed no determination, the dismissals were soft, there were no great deliveries, England were just persistent,” added Gavaskar, one of cricket’s greatest opening batsmen.

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