Planning, need of the hour

Published : Aug 18, 2001 00:00 IST

THE Coca-Cola Cup triangular series, which concluded in Colombo recently, taught the Indians not only quite a few hard lessons on positive attitude, but most importantly on planning also. If only the Indians had planned their innings well, things could not have come to such a pass. Just when one thought that they were beginning to realise their potential, with consecutive wins in their last three league matches, came the shocking surrender to the Lankans in the final.

I have always maintained that one-day cricket revolves around a few good partnerships that could lay the foundation for a big total. This has been clearly displayed by the Lankans time and again and nobody knows this better than the Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya. He leads from the front, both in deeds and in words.

Another aspect of the Sri Lankan cricket is its non-dependence on any particular individual. If Jayasuriya fails, there is always Mahela Jayawardene, Russel Arnold and others to fall back on. In the bowling department also, there is ample support to the lethal Muttiah Muralitharan. All the players chip in unlike in the Indian team which depends on one or two cricketers. The youngsters rally well consistently around the senior cricketers. Their fighting display in the final encounter at the Premadasa Stadium was a testimony to that.

The other team in the triangular series - New Zealand - is by no means a star-studded side. With limited resources, both in batting and bowling, they only thrive on team effort. On a man to man analysis, the Indians may look better than the Kiwis, but what separates them from others is their utilisation of the available talent to the best extent possible. Among them, opener Nathan Astle caught my eye for his good performance and he seems to have a special liking for the Indian bowlers, scoring two hundreds in three encounters.

The Indians would do well to draw some lessons from both New Zealand and Sri Lanka. The never say die spirit from the Lankans and the shrewd management of existing talent from the Kiwis.

From the Indian point of view, there are a couple of performances which I would cherish for some time to come. The unbeaten 98 from Yuveraj Singh against Sri Lanka which lifted the Indian total, from 38 for four at one stage, to a respectable 227. The responsible innings from the Punjab lad only reinforced my belief that youngsters should be given a long rope so that they get ample opportunities to realise their talent despite the repeated early failures. What I liked most about Yuveraj's knock was the way he paced his innings, understanding the nature of the pitch, not resorting to big hitting as is his wont, just picking ones and twos. In the same match, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra bowled tidily in the end overs, making it difficult for the batsmen to settle into any sort of rhythm.

Virender Sehwag, another shy 22-year-old, was lambasted by all and sundry for his miserable performances earlier, but the lightning century from him in the do-or-die encounter against the Kiwis in the last league match forced the critics, including yours truly, to sit up and take notice. It was really an innings of some merit. Of late, I have never seen an opener bat as imperiously as Sehwag did on that day, smashing ball after ball with utter disdain. It was a great innings which came at the right time. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall, if you look at the performance, the bowlers did a good job, given their inexperience, and I will not blame the bowlers for the defeats. The batsmen performed inconsistently and that remains a cause for concern.

The pitches in the triangular series played all kinds of tricks. But surely it was not upto international standards. I have been emphasising on the need to have sporting wickets at international venues, but it has fallen only on deaf ears.

However, what is the need of the hour if India has to perform well in the forthcoming series? The first suggestion that I would make has to do with planning. Seldom has a team suffered as much as for lack of planning as this one. The Indians just leave it to chance and providence and the best example would be the dismissal of captain Sourav Ganguly - thrice getting out to balls outside the off-stump. The way the Lankans planned the Indian captain's dismissal clearly showed how much importance they gave to planning.

Sourav's on-field antics also did not do him any good. Throughout the triangular series, he did not maintain his cool, diverting his aggression to the opponents and to his mates as well which only aggravated things.

It only exposed the team for its poor planning. What prevented India from coming up with game plans, strategies, that could catch the opposition off-guard? Surprise moves, innovative field placements, novel bowling changes should have been made. Unpredictability is the key word here. The Indians failed to do all these on a consistent basis, and rightly Sri Lanka snatched the Cup with an authoritative win.

Yet another persistent problem which needs to be addressed is the need for quality all-rounders and there has not been anyone who has quite fit into the great Kapil Dev's shoes. But, I feel Hemang Badani, Reetinder Singh Sodhi, and Virender Sehwag could be developed into all-rounders of some substance.

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