It is time for India to move on to their next generation of players, says Mike Atherton
England were impressive but day four showed why India must make dramatic changes, says Mike Atherton.
Last Updated: 10/12/12 9:05pm
Alastair Cook's side looked set to wrap up a second straight four-day win over their hosts after reducing them to 161-8 shortly after tea, with India still needing 46 to make England bat again.
However, stubborn resistance from Ravichandran Ashwin (83 not out) helped India to 239-9 at stumps, a lead of 32.
Ashwin's performance, though, couldn't mask the problems facing India, said former England captain Atherton.
After watching the hosts surrender six wickets between lunch and tea, Atherton believes big changes must be made after the fourth Test if India are to return to previous heights.
"It was frustrating for England at the end because they would have liked to have finished this game on the fourth evening and go and enjoy a well-deserved celebration," he said.
"As always with these things [the six wicket collapse] is a combination of outstanding work from England but pretty tame and weak batting from India who have got some real problems.
"When India lose this game tomorrow there is going to be a real post-mortem: where do they go with MS Dhoni's captaincy? What do they do with Sachin Tendulkar? How can they move this team forward?
"There have been so many signs in this game - the running between Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan backing away to Steven Finn - this team is pretty much done, I think."
Atherton, not normally an advocate of wholesale changes to team line-ups, says now is the time for India to move from one generation of players to the next.
"After England's hammering in Ahmedabad I didn't really contemplate many changes - panic changes are the wrong thing to do. But India are at a crossroads now," he said.
"The distance between England in the field, their athleticism and the way they go about their practice, and India is chalk and cheese.
"You've got great players like Sehwag and Tendulkar, whose batting is as good as anything you'll see this century, but their fielding is last century. India have got a lot of young players who are heavy scoring to come in and they need to find a way of getting them in and move on.
"I suspect they won't make that many changes ahead of the fourth Test, but we may see a watershed at the end of the series.
"What they do with Tendulkar is a key question. I'm not generally one for sentiment in these situations, the wheel continues to turn and new players come in, as we've seen with Cheteshwar Pujara coming in for Rahul Dravid.
"They have got to move on at some stage."
Atherton also called for the India board to consider their general approach to the coaching of the team and suggested a revolution in methods and attitude could lead to success.
"India had Greg Chappell as coach who was trying to change things and that rubbed one or two people up the wrong way. They didn't like that and they got rid of him," said Atherton.
"The last two coaches they've had, Gary Kirsten and Duncan Fletcher have been very laissez-faire and allowed the senior players to do as they like.
"Do they want a coach to come in and drive change or are they happy with this approach, which isn't working right now?"