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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New face of Indian Cricket - 3

I pinned a lot of hope on Indian test cricket team in an old article. India played 13 test matches (2 in SA, 2 in NZ, 5 in ENG & 4 in AUS) in previous years.  India lost 0-1 in SA, 0-1 in NZ, 1-3 in ENG and 0-2 in AUS. The records paint bleak picture of future Indian test cricket and wrong selection policy became one of the reason in losses. However, the last thing we need now is finger-pointing. What we need is instead careful analysis and a new strategy. I will take solace in the words of Barack Obama when he faced the difficulties he faces as a second-term president struggling to make progress on his priorities and to work constructively with Congress- "Cynicism is a choice — hope is a better choice." 

Frank A. Clark once said that Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots. Indian team performed better in utter alien condition of New Zealand and South Africa. But, they lost nerve to capture moments and series was gone.  India have done to England at Lord's what England did to them in Mumbai: beat them on a pitch designed for the home team. England won the toss on the greenest pitch in Lords but  India bullied and bounced them out. And then suddenly there was downhill path with three consecutive test loss. Rarely does nemesis follow hubris so quickly & brilliance followed by devastation. Indians forced their way to Australian bowling attack in Adelaide even if they couldn't take 20 wickets.  Australia backed off in further test matches, wary of India's batting from the Adelaide chase. The attitude of new captain was refreshing for a change. Johann Wolfgang once said that daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten but may start a winning game. Even when India lost to Australia the fighting spirit was lauded by Indian fans.

Steve Waugh wrote in his masterpiece, Out of My Comfort Zone, "Captaincy is about empowerment, about making the players responsible for their actions and, in turn, accountable. It is about treating every one equally but differently by recognising that there are varied characters who need to express their flair and inside the ultimate team vision."  Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble showed Indians the way forward with attacking mindset in foreign conditions. This was also phase of rise of fabulous four with an attacking opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virendra Sehwag.  M S Dhoni carried a team in transition where the old order were on the last legs. Next order of senior players failed to raise their level and were found to be sitting out of test team in their prime of early 30's.  MSD was found waiting either with old order or new inexperienced lineup.  MSD had remain glued with the same failures in regards to the team composition & not enough opportunities were given to other squad players.  A big bias or defensive tactics of containing runs  like ODI naturally passed into Test team. However, MSD stayed real through a detachment, taking neither success nor failure too seriously. Baton of captaincy was transferred from M S Dhoni to Virat Kohli in between and our young players are hardened by foreign tours in difficult conditions. Indian team is still caught in time wrap of learning phase that must be abolished by Virat Kohli to make a leap for the next level.

From 1993 till 2000, India did not win a single Test away from home.  It was inability of  Indian team  to win test matches abroad due to lack of application of batsman and poor bowling firepower unable to take 20 wickets. The traumatic 90's when Indian team's fortune used to rise and fall with Sachin Tendulkar is over. Kohli, Rahane and Vijay showed judicious stroke-play and mental courage that they belong at the top of world in last 2 years.

Fast bolwers are a rare breed in Indian cricket and need to be handled properly so that they transform into wicket taking bowlers which India lacks at the moment. Each cricket playing nation possess a lethal ast bowling pair for a winning streak. Boult-Southee, Johnson-Harris, Steyn-Philander & Anderson-Broad are prime example of the theory. There is a failure in developing our next tier of bowlers to stake a claim in Indian team. It is shame that we have self proclaimed bowling spearhead of the country in Ishant Sharma. Pace bowling pair of Shami - Yadav with the support of Bhuvaneshwar is our new hope. Both spin and fast bowlers must clear their mind of some cobwebs and have to perform if India are to stay competitive.

The big question in the minds of fans - Who will be our fast bowling all-rounder ? We need fast bowling all-rounder for overseas . India is looking for fast bowling all-rounder but we must be more focused to search for batsman with caliber of spinner. One finds it difficult to understand the policy of the selectors in going for such vain search by looking at the pool of all-rounders in India. India should aim to discover someone like a Shakib/Moin Ali/Hafeez. The search of allrounder has been abandoned with the failure of Ashwin, Jadeja and Bhuvi in a dual role. After all, an admission of mistakes is only the start of the repair process.

Test cricket is played mostly between the ears. That is the truth in Test cricket: it can be a lonely place when things are not going your way.  It is easy to blame a team when it is down. It's not so easy to identify the causes and engineer a remedy. There is certainly a strong correlation between a settled side and a winning team, but as mathematicians learn in their first statistics class, correlation does not prove causation.  But, as the old cricket cliché says, you don't judge a pitch until both teams have batted. Turns out you shouldn't judge a team until they have played at home and away, either. India will not be playing in Asia next one year. Sub continent pitches will be valid assessment of India's performance as a departure of  safety-first cricket to a team that doesn't play the averages for respectability. There is a dogged determination in team and Virat has leadership skills to pull the team on winning path again.   The bigger question we must ask - Are other nations looking forward to facing a Indian side in ascendancy ?


  1. Suresh Raina is a regular member of One Day squad of Indian Cricket Team and known for his big Sixes in IPL matches. We all know about his all round skills in Cricket field, but Raina is now all set to start his new innings as a Bollywood singer. He will give his voice for the actor turned director Zeishan Quadri’s debut film ‘Meeruthiya Gangsters’.



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