On the fourth day of the fourth Test in Southampton, England completed a series win over the visiting Indians. Their victory was not unexpected; it is difficult overcoming England in their own conditions. But India fought them all the way and have shown signs that not long into the future, they could well return and beat England at home.
The 1876 encounter between the Seventh Cavalry Regiment of the United States army and the Lakota and Cheyenne Indian tribes, or the Battle of Little Big Horn as it is remembered, ended in a comprehensive victory for the Native Americans. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, The US forces were outnumbered and outgunned. But even in victory, the famous Sitting Bull, leader the Indian warriors, recognized there was trouble ahead for his people. Their opponents, though defeated were likely to improve in numbers and weaponry, giving them the advantage in future confrontations. “One day,” the great chief proclaimed to his adversaries, “your people will outnumber my people. But that day is not today.”
Spin, of necessity, was India’s main mode of attack for much of their past. Good seam was hard to come by. Spin, therefore, would have to do, and it was not unusual for India’s bowling unit to include, two, three or even four spinners. Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan were fine fast bowlers, but too often they lacked sufficient support.
And so here we are. India has lost a series that it might well have won had things been slightly different. But there will be other opportunities in the future. Much can change in a short time but India appears to have a large pool of exciting talent that should serve them well. There is some talent available to England too, but they will probably need to endure a period of scarcity before their stocks can be properly replenished.
England managed to hold off India on this occasion and Indian fans are understandably disappointed. Nevertheless, despite recent failures in South Africa and now in England, India is now in the process of developing a team that should enable them to win more regularly abroad. Root and his endured on this occasion. Yet the series was so hard-fought that he could well be entertaining thoughts similar to those of Sitting Bull those many years ago: One day India will defeat England in a series played in England. But that series is not this series.