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June - July 2005
India Sport Scene
Cricket - Has India Lost Its Way?
One of the great things about cricket is that it simulates debate. It is a sort of game where no one really knows if they are right or wrong when they assess teams or individuals. After conceding the lead in the test series against Pakistan and again losing their way against a Pakistan team in the one day internationals, naturally, pundits, critics and coaches will ask why to India? There are a multitude of factors responsible for this situation, one being that the Pakistan played as a team and that all their players contributed. Pakistan also had a better game plan. With a batting line up boasting of Virendra Shewag Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, India should never be short of runs. In the just concluded series, apart from the Delhi chase, on a pitch not fit for one day international cricket, India did score heavily against Pakistan, so why did they fall from a 2-0 lead to concede the series? In modern day cricket, a limited side needs to have at least five front line bowlers, usually six. South Africa in the 90’st had seven. This allows for flexibility in strategy and tactics. South Africa also had an interesting problem of having three very fine left arm bowlers, bowling over the wicket making the ball end up going wide of the off stump. The modern one day player will latch into any width. India need address this situation
area where India will have to look seriously is their fielding. Mohammed
Kaif stands out and apart from Tendulkar who is great all round cricketer,
the rest look pretty pedestrian. The batting does not seem to be
a problem, although the ability to score heavily is always there.
However, India depend a lot on Dravid to do the donkey work in the
middle, taking ones and twos. The individual roles in the team are
blurred. It seems that there are no instructions and that every body
pretty much play their natural game, with Rahul to bat through and
Kaif to pressurise later with running between the wickets etc. If
Tendulkar or Shewag were to bat right through the innings instead
of blasting together then India would have a great advantage. However
if they fail then it leaves only Rahul. India needs to find a good
all-rounder with the capabilities of Andrew Flintoff, Shaun Pollack
or Kallis. Most sides would crave for that for in order to win one
day internationals it is important to have three dimensional cricketers
in team and not bits and pieces player.
"We have not yet finally decided on the subject and are looking at all options". Ganguly’s lawyer Siddarth Shanakar Ray is reported to have said. ICC has to ensure over rates but a six match ban could impact a players career. He opined that the player’s appeal should at least be given a hearing and hailed the Indian Cricket Board for standing by the player, while some fanatics burnt the ICC appointed appeals commissioner Michael Beloff effigy on fire. . The Indian players assurance also came out in support of Ganguly, terming the six match ban imposed on him as excessive.
Clearly India’s one day cricket has gone to pieces. The tag of world cup finalists has never been so ill deserved. At present players are only playing for themselves as there is so much uncertainty in the team. Pathan, Ganguly, Harbhajan, Kumble and Agarkar all look to be emerging from a revolving door. There is no fixed game plan or a team. India will have to start from scratch., be honest and ask themselves if they can afford selfish players who do not play as a team.
Currently Indian team is stagnating and will not move forward. It is such bedraggled unit that even in form batsmen are losing the plot. Virendra Shewag is now trying to play a mixed game of attack and defence, a game that is not natural to him. It will never carry him forward for he does not have the technique of a defensive batsman. In Pakistan last year as well as in the early part of this tour he was smashing hits in the cover and to the third man region. Now he is trying to play grounded shots. Consequently with the rolled down wrists, the catches are going into the hands of the fielders. The second in form batsman Rahul Dravid too has succumbed to pressure. A premier batsman should never open himself to assist in a situation where a decision on his run out is being judged by the third umpire. It implies that decision is too close for comfort. His was the most valuable wicket and he risked a perfectly avoidable situation. Yuvraj too was an unnecessary waste. It reflected the team’s state of mind. Asish Nehra after the splendid first delivery to Shahid Afridi bowled freebees down the leg side.
The series would have drawn had not India in fourth one day, lost in the last ball by one run. In this match Ganguly, during his short stay played 10 dot balls. Pakistan was very lucky to win and this match decided the series win. Pakistan on the other hand had confidence in their combination and ability, and performed a notch higher than their ability. It showed in the way Rana played. He is not superior to India’s Nehra or Zaheer’ but he is now confident since gaining success against India’s batsmen. Sachin Tendulkar after his carefree hundred in Ahmedabad is back to his cautious ways. Sooner than later he will be open to scrutiny by the public. Pakistan batting worked so well in tandem despite two atrocious umpiring decisions. On hindsight Pakistan’s saving of the Mohali test was the defining moment of the series. Two irregular batsmen showed the rest that if they could do it in a losing cause the others too if they pulled their weight in days ahead.
team’s confidence is completely dried up If a team from being
up goes on to lose the series it means that drastic measures can no
longer be avoided.
coach Sudha Shah was equally scathing. It was a very bad display Our
top order batting just caved in said Shah. They just did not apply
themselves properly and just put themselves under pressure unnecessarily,
with the result that there were four run outs.
The MCC side features Chris Gayle, the opening batsman who scored a triple century in the test match in Antigua between West Indies and South Africa. Gayle will be joined by his West Indies team mate Ramnaresh Sarwan, in a side captained by the Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar. They will face an International XI skippered by their national team mate Brian Lara and the West Indies Captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
players who have agreed to play in this fixture are Stephen Fleming
and C L Cairns from New Zealand; Graeme Smith, Shaun Pollock, Jacque
Kallis and M Ntini from South Africa; Andy Flower from Zimbabwe. There
are also four Sri Lankans,- Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan,
Kumar Sangakarra and Chaminda Vaas. From Pakistan are Shoiab Akthar
and Mohammed Sami. India is represented by Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble,
Virendra Shewag and Rahul Dravid.