Sunday, January 1, 2012

India's batting is now just a Facade

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Earlier this year, when India won a Test Match at Kingston against the West Indies, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a man usually careful with his words, blabbered something against the umpires and how he should have been in his hotel room much earlier. 

Something about the words,even discounting the media sensationalism made me uncomfortable. India were already showing signs of disrespecting Test Cricket, with the focus on IPL and many regular players deciding to skip a prestigious tour of the West Indies. Dhoni's words were uncharacteristically arrogant; showed disrespect towards the West Indies and I found them unsportsmanlike even.

That was the last time India won a Test away from home.

In 7 away Tests following that Test, India has been limp with its performances in Test cricket. 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's blabbering and later India's refusal to go after an achievable target in the Dominica Test was only a vague indication of something not quite right with India and Test Cricket. Later in the summer, England confirmed that it was India's middle order batting, as a unit, where the problem lied. And unless things change pretty darn quickly at Sydney, Australia will show us that the problem is irreversible.

We realize that we are in the minority when it comes to making this conclusion but finally we have found some support through Sanjay Manjrekar's acknowledgement that India's ageing batsmen may indeed be an area of concern.

Of course, we think that Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman are the core of the problem because India have traditionally fed off the mountain of runs these three have produced in partnerships and suddenly there is proof that the three are just not cutting it.

Lets look at India's batting numbers this year since the West Indies tour. 10 innings....all all-outs. Not a single time were India able to last for more than 100 overs.  They never crossed the 300 mark. Their scoring rate has been a mediocre 3.1 and on most occasions Dravid, Sachin and Laxman have been dismissed either around the time the second new ball is due or the opposition's quicker bowlers have sensed an opening and on an attack that the 3 have been unable to quash. On 3 occasions India have been dismissed under 50 overs.  

Here are the sequence of scores from Lords to MCG...

286, 261, 288, 158, 224, 244, 300, 283, 282, 169.

Average 250. Totally Limp.

Most, if not all of India's other problems feed off this inability to put up runs on the board. When the opposition has piled on the runs, India's batsmen have been unable to match it with their own pile. And on rare occasions when India's bowlers have dismissed the opposition cheaply, India's batsmen; most notably Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman have let India down. Trent Bridge and Melbourne are cases in point.

With averages that read 38, 54 and 19 in these away Test matches you might think they belong to Muhammed Ashraful, Tamim Iqbal and Peter Siddle. Not quite....they belong to Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the 5 away Test losses in 2011. 

To win India needs huge 100s from the 3 and they have dried up. Not once in the 10 away Tests this year has  anyone even come close to a huge 100. The result is 1 win and 5 losses. 

The latest trend is to blame India's inability to clean up the tail. While that is a fact, I totally reject that as the main reason for India's mediocrity. The problem of the wagging tail is a problem only because India's batsmen have been ineffective. It isn't like its a new problem. India's inability to wipe out the tail. has been a problem since eternity. Thus I find it very interesting that people are finding faults with things in Indian cricket which were never India's strong points.

Even on this blog, most feedback is to reject our criticism of the performances of Sachin, Rahul and Laxman and pointing out failures of Gambhir and Dhoni. Well before these 2 debuted India won Test matches in England and Australia. The openers were Sanjay Bangar and Aakash Chopra and one win was engineered by Ajit Agarkar.

Our point is this....if India puts on runs on the board even Praveen Kumar might occasionally do an Ian Botham. But to blame Praveen Kumar (just as an example) for India's inability to win Test matches is quite stupid in India's context. 

India's batting is now just a facade over a legacy of thousands of runs and hundreds of centuries. It reveals a lot of history and famous wins but largely inconsequential; it seems;  for the challenges of today.

We would love to be proven wrong in Sydney...


Vidooshak said...

What's tragic is that India's bowling is actually world class. This has been the oft repeated lament for Indian batsmen in the past. And now after the bowling has stepped up, the batting has declined. I'm not willing to demonize the big three and Dhoni. But for sure, the time has come to change the batting strategy and in order to do that we need a new crop of batsmen.

Golandaaz said...

Yes, I have to agree about the bowling...

Vidooshak said...

I think I spoke too soon. The bowling is getting ripped to shreds at Sydney.. :-(

Golandaaz said...

but it is a 500+ wicket. Its Sydney Our own batting won't be able to score 150 against Umesh, Ishant, Zak and Ashwin