Inconsistent, to say the least

Published : Nov 10, 2001 00:00 IST

WHAT does one make of the Indian performance in South Africa? Inconsistent, no doubt, but a clear pointer to the fact that this team needs to take drastic steps and also adopt a different approach. One has to be critical for the simple reason that the team is not delivering and the hype around its actual potential seems misplaced.

To begin with, I think the manner in which the team management has handled the wicketkeeper issue is very amateurish. How can you have Rahul Dravid keeping wickets in an international match even if the intention was to give the team an extra batsman or a bowler?

Using Dravid would be like using a double-edged sword, like the Trojan's horse which could spell doom for you. It may give the team some depth but at what cost? It can never go on as a long term prospect because it puts too much pressure on Dravid. If you ask me, it converts him from an Arabian horse to a mule.

Now look at the solution the selectors and the team management come up with. Samir Dighe to replace Deep Dasgupta. It defies logic completely. This is no solution. It is going back and not looking ahead at all. Dighe for Dasgupta! In my opinion Ajay Ratra would have been a better choice.

If the team management wanted experience, and quality, Nayan Mongia would be light years ahead. I would have picked Mongia in the XI for the Test series without batting an eyelid. For a youngster to replace a senior, there shouldn't be much of a difference in standards. But here the gap is wide. If the gap is as wide as the Grand Canyon the senior should be persisted with, or recalled as they would like to put it. But there has to be some reasoning, some explanation as to why Mongia is not being picked, allowing average players the opportunity to wear the India cap.

It surprises me that India, with all the so-called potential, continues to rely on individuals. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly hold the key to all problems and the over-reliance on these two is a big drawback. Facts will not cease to exist if they are ignored. And the hard-hitting fact is that if Tendulkar and Ganguly do not fire, the whole of India knows the inevitable. They switch off their television sets and say goodbye to the game.

The solution to this problem is in the mind. Mental toughness and persistence with youngsters who can go a long way is the only solution. Look at the way the Indian team handled the final. The match required the players to produce percentage cricket. The surface was such where they should have looked at a total of 230 whereas in trying to emulate Tendulkar and Ganguly they forgot the essence of the situation and paid the price going for expansive strokes rather than holding anchor. They just frittered away another final.

A positive aspect of the team for some time has been its catching. It has improved by leaps and bounds but in ground fielding, direct hits and acrobatic skills that come with fitness, there is still scope for improvement. We cannot regain balance when we dive and unleash the ball quickly towards the stumps. Off the top of my head, I think it makes a difference of at least 25 runs per game. The South Africans are plus that many runs before they go in.

The first 15 overs and the last 10 overs are still a thorn in our flesh. It has been happening from time immemorial that we are unable to control a relatively stronger opposition in these overs. You are not making any progress if you are repeating your mistakes. Subtle variations in pace and always coming up with a different game plan help to make you less predictable.

The South Africans learn from their mistakes. They just had to lose one game to India to realise that they just took chances against the spinners whereas they were never certain in picking their line and length.

The next thing they did they were playing them safely, picking the ones and twos and attacking our pace bowlers realising that the lack of a third seamer was the real chink in the Indian armour.

What to say of the Indians' running between the wickets? It leaves a lot to be desired. It was like cows running to the slaughterhouse. It was harakiri stuff. Running is all about understanding and communication. The communication could be from the language of the eyes which of course comes from long years of being together. The safest way is calling loudly, promptly and without hesitation. More than losing out on converting ones and twos, we are losing wickets; which is like losing the big pieces on a chess board.

And then we still continue to suffer from this perennial problem of standing up to quality fast bowlers. There is still a big enough question mark on our ability to handle genuine pace and bouncy conditions. On two of the explosive surfaces in South Africa, the reliance on natural instincts to let off the short ball and dropping of hands when the ball is dug in short is still missing.

Small holes will always sink a big ship! Taking untrained people to war is like throwing them away. We are still making basic errors which are inexplicable when it comes to playing international cricket. No excuses should be allowed if a player repeats his mistakes.

There has been talk of bonus for victories. How about fines for making basic errors and greater fine for repeating them? Hard steps will have to be taken to improve the mindset of the Indian cricketers and it is time some steps are taken now to ensure a pleasant future.

Defeats do not hurt as much as the meek manner in which the Indians succumb especially in the finals. I hope the trend is altered on a war footing.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment