Tuesday, August 23, 2011

(Pataudi Trophy) India: Marks out of -10

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni, has always talked about expectations. How his team is expected to win every time. He uses this to indicate the kind of pressure his team is always under. On the surface it makes me scratch my head trying to understand the motive behind repeatedly bringing up this perfectly rational expectation from fans. To expect their team; who have all the necessary funds at their disposal; to be the best in the world, is certainly not unreasonable.

Of course in reality what he means is the irrational behavior of fans when India lose. The heckling and even violence to players properties.

Quite surprisingly, India's non-compete attitude on this tour that ended in a humiliating clean-sweep of defeats has earned their board; the BCCI; the ire of fans and analysts alike.

The players have been spared.

So Mahendra Singh Dhoni was all this while wrong about what fans expect and by being calm and calculated in his dealings with the media he has protected his team from any criticism and made the BCCI look like the ugly villains; perhaps unintentionally.

But the players do not escape our scrutiny. So here's our assessment of their performance and marks out out -10

Sachin Tendulkar (-10) - Was at his selfish best. Played the IPL, skipped the tour of the West Indies, flirted with a married man with children; Roger Federrer and in what we hope is his last tour of England, flopped like Amitabh Bacchan in Jaadugar. By the time he made it into the 90s in his finals innings at the Oval, there was a danger of a significant milestone being inconsequential in the scheme of the series. Its time for him to go away. It really does not matter that he is enjoying the game. It matters even little that he can still score centuries and win India Test matches. Investing a few losses in the Sharmas, Kohlis and Pujaras is going to give us more gains than investing a few wins via Sachin.  

Virendra Sehwag (00) - Fast bowlers hunt in pairs. In this series, Sehwag hunted for them. His involvement in this series epitomized India. It was difficult not to laugh, really. I know he is still not recovered from the shoulder injury ,which somehow seemed okay during the IPL. I know he has suffered hearing loss. So what was he, the team and the board thinking? That Stuart Broad, Anderson, Swann and Bresnan were going to line up as nurses?

Praveen Kumar (0) - Deserved the man-of-the-series award for India. For the large part his success only highlights how pathetic India were with their bowling. With his pace, he isn't ever going to be a real Test prospect. 

Rahul Dravid (-5) - When Rahul Dravid scores centuries and they get noticed and he gets written about; it usually means trouble. I mean it takes utter and complete, collective failure from Sehwag, VVS, Sachin and Raina for Dravid to get noticed. Dravid's was a competent performance in the series but by his standards not spectacular or extraordinary. We cut 5 points for careless shoelaces and not using the DRS properly.

Suresh Raina (0) - Suresh Raina's successes need to be questioned not his failures. Full marks to him because really its not his fault. WV Raman was crappy too but he was never picked to play Tests in England. Its not Raina's fault that he did. He is who he is. A top dog at local dog-and-pony shows, but of not much utility when you need to get real things done. The homeless man's Saurav Ganguly. But without Dada's guts and attitude.

VVS Laxman (-9) - Why he had such a mediocre series is baffling. He had none of the excuses that some of his peers had. He did not exactly set the IPL on fire and seemed to have had ample time to prepare. The quality of the opposition was right up there. The conditions were challenging. India always in a hole. Everything he typically needs to click was in place. But he never really got going. We give him a point for just looking good all the time. None of his eight dismissals really made him look ugly. After all there are some points for aesthetics.

Zaheer Khan (-8) Its probably unfair to blame Zaheer Khan for a hamstring injury but we can't completely acquit him either. We don't remember Kapil Dev ever breaking down during an important series and bowlers like Brett Lee and Malinga have stood up and made their preferences for the short format clear. Presumably because they don't want to end up like Zaheer Khan ever. Perhaps its time for Zaheer Khan to take a similar stand. We hope in favor of Tests. The 2 points we award him are for playing his part in the only session in the entire series when India competed with England as equals. 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (-7) Can't think of too many captains who have shown Dhoni's poise in defeat. Even in a white wash he led admirably. As a Test batsman he has probably regressed beyond recognition and as a leader his one glaring blemish was the spectacle with the Ian Bell run out. But we largely give him points for...not sure why. May be we just like him. He will come back. He deserves Sachin's retirement. This needs to become Dhoni's team.


Vidooshak said...

Harbhajan Singh -- Time to assign him to the history bucket. Other than glaring and snarling, he brings little value to the side. And oh yes, he's modeled his bowling now after Anil Kumble minus his results. i.e. Does not spin the ball and bowls fast.

Yuvraj Singh - Why did he even show up?

R.P. Singh - India needed a bowler who could feed the voracious English appetite. Dhoni realized that he couldn't do it anymore after the first test fiasco. He had to quickly choose between RP, Gony and Joginder Sharma and chose the first. Poor RP didn't realize he was done in by clever "captaincy".

Sreesanth - He can bowl and occasionally take wickets, but it's his stare at Anderson that deserved the MOM award. He seriously needs to see a shrink.

Amit Mishra - He couldn't spin the ball on a turner and couldn't buy a wicket if his life depended on it. I thought he was the real deal and was sadly let down. Now what? Ojha? Ashwin? Help!!!

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