How many times has this happened in the recent past where India wins one test and lets the opposition come back in the next? I cannot fathom why this happens—-I would not like to parrot the standard “they lost their intensity, they got complacent” because I do not think that professionals “lose intensity”———–there is too much at stake. My explanation is that we consistently have this mindset that now that we have gone 1 up we should play for a draw. In other words take the minimum amount of risk possible in the next match and things will work out just fine.
Perhaps it makes sense on paper but history has shown us——–it never works. In Australia in 2003, in Pakistan in 2003, in Sri Lanka in 2002 we have always lost the initiative when have sought to maintain it. And that is because in cricket refusing to take risks means defeat. Inevitable, total defeat. Yet the Indian think tank refuses to learn from its past mistakes. Evidence: the latest debacle at Bangalore.
What were they thinking? After Sehwag got out, the Indian team, for no rhyme or reason, downed the shutters and refused to score. In other words they felt that offering a dead bat to everything was the best way to play for a draw. It is elementary cricketing knowledge which says that it is not. The fielding captain can crowd men around the bat, the bowlers are running in faster, the fielders are more interested…..it just tightens the noose.
This is precisely what happened after Sehwag got dismissed. It just seemed that the rest of India’s vaunted batting line up did not have the confidence to aggressively pursue the target.
So batsman after batsman stuck out their pads, totally stopped scoring—not even taking advantage of waist high full tosses.
And with the regularity of the victims in “Ten Little Indians” they fell one by one in similar fashion.
Dravid took 64 balls for his 16.
Sachin took 98 balls for his 16.
Laxman took 29 balls for his 5.
Ganguly (it is tough to consider him as a batsman on present form) took 14 balls for his 2.
It’s also time that two of my favorite cricketers looked long and hard at their careers.
Ganguly. 48 runs in this series. It’s not just one series but even his most ardent fans (I am one of them) have to accept that his batting has undergone a decline. Once he was India’s main batsman after Sachin—-now he is India’s principal weak point. It is time Ganguly realized that his presence in the team can no longer be justified with a few in-form batsmen waiting in the wings. Despite some baffling game plans in the Bangalore test, he still remains India’s greatest Test captain but he no longer seems to be an automatic selection into the 11. Which is the principal criteria for selection of the captain.
Dada need to go back to the drawing board—-and prove himself at the first-class level before he is selected in the Test 11. Azhar went through this process and he came back stronger for it. It’s time for Dada to stand aside or be trampled underfoot.
Sachin Tendulkar. Greatest ever after Bradman. No doubt here. But it seems the man has become a victim of his own legendary status so much so that he has become obsessed with his personal achievements. The Mohali Test and Sachin’s selfish go-slow cost us the game there. And in Bangalore, Sachin’s biggest Achilles heel came to the fore—–when he need him the most he is usually not there.
Over here, with Sehwag gone he should have been looking to take the lead—score quickly and help the other batsmen to play around him. But what happened? He became ultra defensive (he played out 8 successive maidens) and ultimately got out softly……..is this the way the greatest batsmen of the world plays? If this was Lara then I can bet my bottom dollar they he would have hit Windies out of trouble or at the very least died trying. Sachin did not even try—not even for a single delivery did he show any intentions of taking control.
It is time Sachin introspects too about his motivations for playing, whether he has been truly a “team man” of late and whether he really enjoys the game like he used to. In a way Sachin and Ganguly represent two sides of the same coin: one seems to have lost the aggression but not the skill…the other has his aggro intact but seems to have totally lost his abilities.
In the meantime, India has just drawn a Test series with a Pakistani side that, by far, has been the weakest to ever visit India. Even though technically it is not so, morally this is a huge defeat. And following a home series loss to Australia, it is time for a new direction and some sweeping changes.