India have become a laughing stock

They arrived as the world No. 1 team but will end the series embarrassed and, in all likelihood, whitewashed.

updated: August 21, 2011 09:51 IST
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London: Shortly after the close of play at The Oval, a drunken punter in a furry penguin outfit attempted to run out to the middle of the pitch. He fell flat on his face after five steps, was pounced on by six security guards, and was hauled off to face the consequences of his actions. With the possible exception of Suresh Raina's 29-ball duck, it was the most pitiful sight on another extraordinary day of cricket, but at least we can be sure that he won't be allowed back in for more.

Alas for India's cricketers, they won't have the same get-out. On Sunday England will set about administering the last rites of a sorry series, and to judge by the manner in which they shed five prime wickets in 31 overs in the fading evening light, India seem more than capable of shrugging off their remaining 15 in 98. Mentally they have already turned their backs on a contest in which only the absent Praveen Kumar and the unfailingly admirable Rahul Dravid have come close to maintaining their reputations, let alone enhancing them.

Dravid remained steadfast to the bitter end, magnificent in his defiance of all circumstance - including the concussion suffered by Gautam Gambhir that obliged him to step up as an emergency opener for fourth innings out of seven in this series (or sixth out of seven if you take into account Virender Sehwag's king pair at Edgbaston). His presence, experience and example shine out as a beacon of everything that India has squandered on this trip - technical proficiency, guts and reputation chief among them.

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