India were overconfident & under-prepared: Vengsarkar

Mumbai: Slamming the Indian team for its lack of preparedness for the four-Test England series, in which the home team is down 1-2 with one game to go at Nagpur next week, former chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said the onus is on the selectors to make at least a couple of changes to the side.

"England were well-prepared while India were over confident. The Indian preparation for this important series was diabolical," former captain Vengsarkar told PTI today after the visitors beat the hosts by seven wickets in the third and penultimate Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

"I hope the selectors show vision and courage of conviction. At least a couple of changes are expected straightaway," he added.

Vengsarkar pointed out that while England played three practice games in the run-up to the series to get acclimatised to the conditions, the Indian board did not field the Board President's XI in any of the games.

"When we went to England we played one warm-up game before plunging into the Test series. The same happened when we went to Australia. In contrast, England's preparations were very good," the 116-Test veteran insisted.

Concurring with Vengsarkar's views, another ex-captain Ajit Wadekar said that the Indians were complacent in their approach to the series.

"Indians' body language showed they were complacent while England had come well-prepared. They spent time in Dubai and Sri Lanka before coming here and were determined to do well.

Our middle order failed miserably and their spinners, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann bowled much better than ours.

"(Ravichandran) Ashwin seems to be a better batsman than a bowler and could be promoted up the batting order," Wadekar quipped, more in jest.

"Monty and Swann have used the conditions much better than our spinners. The wickets have responded to them. They are determined to do well. And their pacers are making the ball reverse much better," Wadekar said.

Panesar, who was shockingly omitted by the visitors in the opening Test that they lost by 10 wickets, has taken 16 wickets at 23-plus runs per wicket, while Swann has grabbed 17 at 24-plus.

In contrast Ashwin and left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha have taken 11 and 19 wickets at 52 and 25, respectively.

The third spinner, seasoned Harbhajan Singh, has claimed two tail-end wickets at 42 in the only game he played in Mumbai.

Wadekar, who also wants some changes in the team, does not expect India to square the series at Nagpur.

"There should be some changes like inclusion of Manoj Tiwary (Bengal captain). Unfortunately Umesh Yadav does not seem to be fit. Either England will win 3-1 or 2-1. It's very difficult for India to come back in the series," he said.

Former India team manager also criticised captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for not using the part time bowlers enough even when the rivals were scoring big.

"Why did he not use part time bowlers like Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj (Singh) even when they were scoring 500 run? Only two bowlers were used mostly," he said.

Vengsarkar, meanwhile, was full of admiration for visiting team skipper Alastair Cook for the way he had performed.

"Cook has been outstanding and has been leading from the front," the 56-year-old former stylish middle order batsman said.

The left handed Cook has been in tremendous touch with the bat, having amassed 548 runs in the three Tests including centuries in each of the three games so far for a stupendous average of 109.6.

Asked what is the step forward for India now, Vengsakar said, "We have to raise the bar. We have to score runs, someone should dig in there and play an exceptional innings and have big partnerships to put England under pressure.

"But they (England) are high on confidence," he added.

 Another former chief selector, Bapu Nadkarni termed it as "batting failure" because the Indian batsmen were happy and satisfied to make 60-70 runs and then get out.

"It was a batting failure. It was poor batting on a pitch that was not difficult to bat on and was a slow turner. Our batsmen have forgotten the art of playing Test match and are satisfied with a 30-40 or 60-70," said the former Test left arm spinner known for his accurate bowling.

"It's a question of patience. Test matches are a test of patience," said Nadkarni who also blamed the limited over mentality for the bowlers' inability to stick to a consistent line and length.

"Tell me how many bowlers are consistent in their line and length. Bowling in a 50-over or T20 game is different to bowling in Tests. When the One-day game had come I had said it is not very good for Test cricket. Now the T20 game has taken it further," Nadkarni remarked.

He, however, left it to the cricket administrators to deal with issues like T20 cricket and wanted the individual players to decide what was good for them.

"It's an open field. It's up to the individual players to decide whether to concentrate on playing for the country or on other things. It's up to the cricket administrators to decide about T20 cricket schedule," he said.

Former Test and ODI bowler, Balwinder Singh Sandhu praised England for their superior preparedness for the series.

"We thought by making turning wickets we would win but they played better cricket on the same wickets. They were better prepared. They handled spin bowling much better," said Sandhu, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning squad.