Cricket – this one word unites the whole of India. There is hype throughout the nation whenever there is a cricket match involving the team. There are people who absent from their work, students who bunk classes, daily wagers who forget everything to get glued in front of public television sets just to be a part of this euphoria. In the wake of India’s successive lopsided defeats against Bangladesh, there is a dark cloud over the team’s ethics and performance. What’s wrong with the players? Should Dhoni continue? What happens after the series defeat? Let’s prod upon these questions in
The Middle Muddle:
Apart from one or the other clicking rarely, the middle order of the Men In Blue has always been untrustworthy. There is a stat showing that the top three batsmen have contributed more than 45% of the total score in the last three years. While India stands top in this list, we cannot be proud of the fact because this shows the floppy middle. Middle order batsmen are meant to stabilize things down during overs 16 – 35. After the changed nature of the game, rarely does this happen. Since the advent of T20, batsmen have forgotten the knack of slowing down a bit and accelerating later. Players in the middle rarely strode down the ground to loft a delivery in the past but this has become a common scene today. Suresh Raina has been trying to score but what makes him fail is his urge to play a skier. He gets dismissed 90% by deliveries bowled above his chest. This makes him play uncomfortably, always expecting a bouncer. During the second ODI against Bangladesh, Raina could be seen taking a backfoot stance very often, expecting a higher ball, and later mistiming it or nudging it to take a single. Perhaps, rehabilitation is necessary in order to reform his batting and mould it a bit. Ajinkya Rahane has got beautiful strokes under his belt and can be the anchor of a game. His diligent eye on the incoming delivery and perfect timing gives ample room to choose the shot he wishes to play. He rarely plays uncharacteristic shots and is the man to watch out for. It was rather shocking to see him warm the bench in the second match, while Ambati Rayudu replaced him.
Jadeja’s Lackluster Performances:
After scoring three triple centuries for Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy and picking up quite a few wickets, this man was seen as the replacement for Dada. But then, he has never been satisfactory apart from being a good spinner. His main strength – batting, has failed him miserably. While he was clutching on to his position with his controlled bowling, it has also seemed to desert him recently. Spinners are meant to take some wickets in the middle overs so that the batting team does not get room to hit in the slog overs. Jadeja has been good in his economy and contains the leakage of runs well but the wicket – taking deliveries are totally absent in him.
The IPL Era:
IPL, the second most uttered word in India after ‘I Love You’, has brought in detrimental changes to the way batsmen were approaching a game. Leaving deliveries that are pitched outside off - stump has become history and Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli are clearly the victims of this bait. While there are mostly no slips during the IPL matches (or just one), the 50 – over format always has two slips mostly for the first 15 – 20 overs. At those times, it is very risky to slash deliveries that rise above the waistline. Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed have capitalized on this weakness and have reaped rich rewards in the ongoing tourney.
The Team Combination:
While it is good to see struggling players sit out for a match, changing the playing XI for each and every match can boomerang any time. The exclusion of Rahane was a perfect testimony to this. While Rahane might have failed or flashed, Rayudu was not the right alternate for him. Perhaps, it is high time to include the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara into the team; bookmarking him to be a Test player is the most ridiculous thing. Now, India needs someone to stabilize their innings, someone who can prevent wickets falling, and someone who can spend time in the middle and test the patience of bowlers. And, Pujara rightly seems to be the choice. After all, India should try to bat out their full quota of 50 overs, for which attacking batsmen won’t help.
Dhoni – The Captain:
After Mahendra Singh Dhoni pushed Mustafizur Rahman for a single during the first ODI, the so – called pundits termed it to be the ‘physical output of a desperate cricketer whose psychological instincts have waned over a period of time’. This is nothing less than absurdity. One incident or one series cannot reflect upon the leadership quality of a man, who has brought unthinkable glory to Indian cricket. His patient knock of 47 at number 4 in the following encounter showed that this man takes responsibility rightfully. If a solid strokeful batsman like Pujara comes in, Dhoni can play the partner’s role to perfection by rotating strike with ease and playing mindboggling shots when More than one’s playing prowess, it is the confidence that he could bestow upon the crew, the optimism he could infuse as a leader and the temper that he maintains defines a captain. And, that’s exactly what MSD is. He ought to continue as the skipper.
The Domestic Tournaments:
It’s high time to pick talents from Ranji and Irani Trophies to the national team, at least for games within the sub – continent. Players like Mohit Sharma, who were drafted into the side after one or two glitzy performances in the IPL, have failed to deserve the Indian cap. Moreover, this creates a wage gap amongst players. While players like Malolan Rangarajan and Pankaj Singh bowl on top throughout the Ranji season yet fail to earn an IPL entry, let alone sporting the Indian colors, there are Mohits who are no match yet continue to don the blue attire. IPL can fill in the coffers of BCCI and make cricketers rich in a short while but it drags cricket below poverty line. The gentleness of the game has been trashed and only brutal assaults are witnessed with joy. That is the prime reason why the audiences are able to overcome victories and losses in an easy mindset.The time has come to reform the Indian cricket in a wholesome basis. If India could bounce back from the ruins of the World Cup 2007 to lift the T20 WC Trpohy and rise to the Top Spot in the ICC Test Rankings, there’s every chance that the team can do a similar feat even now. The key lies in letting the past go by and focusing on things to be done; because Cricket in India is not a sport, not a religion – it is a FAITH that everyone puts their heart into and believes thoroughly.