Wednesday, March 9, 2011

India Decimate Netherlands

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The title is deliberately misleading. This was the fantasy of most Indian fans who expect India to win the World Cup in style. This stems from how some of the previous winners have done it. Sri Lanka, Australia and West Indies dominated other teams and earned legitimacy as World Cup winners. India and Pakistan, the other winners, weren't as convincing but were fairy tale winners.

Both kinds of victories should be celebrated. One is a probably a win of skills and mental fortitude, while the other is a win for heart and passion. This Indian team is displaying neither. There is no passion and heart. There is ample skill on display but no mental fortitude it seems like.

For it's part the Indian team has nearly won every game it has played. The game against England was tied from a position of sure defeat. Yuvraj Singh has dug deep in two matches albeit versus associates to deliver. This appears to be the script for this Indian team. So theoretically, there should be no complaint. Then why this feeling of half-filled pleasure? Why is there this feeling that something is not right? Why this feeling that something isn't complete?

Here's my take. Virender Sehwag, for all his pre-tournament talk, has failed to deliver on his word to bat out games. He continues to be an average ODI batsman in my book because he is playing on his reputation alone. He is definitely an impact player, but he's not having much impact. India are trying to blend Australian-style efficient and Sri Lanka-style dynamite. I think Gilchrist was the only one who could do it. Sehwag isn't making the cut so far. To make the non-believers believe, Sehwag needs to come good big time against South Africa and West Indies.

Team management may be held solely responsible for having started the destruction of Virat Kohli as a solid ODI batsman. Kohli had vindicated himself as a solid #3 or #4 batsman. By denying an inform batsman his space to flourish and instead relying on Sehwag and Yuvraj to come good, Dhoni and the team management have done India a huge disservice. I'm extremely worried that Kohli will go the way of Irfan Pathan. Today's dismissal against Netherlands after coming in as a number 5 batsman signaled to me that he was beginning to lose confidence. In fact, even Gambhir may be getting screwed up.

Dhoni would have done well to take a leaf from 1987 India team, where a virtually unknown Sidhu was kept at #3 throughout and allowed to express himself. Sidhu had not played a single ODI until then and had been dumped from the test team in 1983 as a "strokeless wonder". He was backed by the seniors solely on his display in the camp prior to the World Cup. Sidhu had replaced Amarnath who was the hero of 1983.

There was no basis to think that either Sehwag or Yuvraj would do better than Gambhir and Kohli. While Yuvraj is grinding it out, Sehwag is going to have to deliver in subsequent matches. Even otherwise his place is secure purely on an unearned ODI reputation of one innings of consequence in this World Cup. I cannot understand why the team wants Sehwag to develop a new facet to his game while a winning formula with Kohli in a fulcrum position had already been in place. My preferred order would be Gambhir, Tendulkar, Kohli, Yuvraj, Raina/Sehwag, Dhoni, Pathan. Why do we need a Sehwag at the top of the order? What was wrong with Gambhir, Tendulkar?

I wouldn't blame the bowling because India don't have any. Whatever the bowlers are delivering is the best we can expect out of them. In fact, with Zaheer Khan we have a guy who can break open games. Harbhajan is tight and the other three are free to try to limit the damage. Yuvraj is reaping wickets against minnows, but until Pathan and he are able to limit the runs given away to less than 60, India cannot depend on bowlers to win games.


Kruiser said...

Why double standards? If Kohli has vindicated himself as #3 or #4 player, then so has Sehwag as an opener.
The fact is, after the opening pair, positions 3 thru 6 should be fluid. Yuvraj is as dependable as Kohli in my opinion. Yes Virat has been in sparkling form of late which is why he is in the playing 11.
I would not touch the batting line up.. bowling though, is still far from settled...

Vidooshak said...

Perhaps there is no choice but to not touch the batting order anymore. Sehwag isn't going anywhere, neither is Kohli. But I doubt if we are getting the best out of either.

straight point said...

after the marathon innings viru went on to see the doctor and i believe he has been told that he wont survive this world cup if he bats longer... i may be wrong but this is what i feel from distance...

Vidooshak said...

SP - maybe it's part of a larger Dhoni strategy to save Sehwag's big innings only for the teams that count, SA and WIndies.