Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Now, it's Tragic

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In the second innings of the Nottingham test during the summer of 2011, England raced to 544. They scored at 4.5 runs an over. Any semblance of a contest between England and India in the series was effectively over. From that point forward India didn't have a chance. Several people preach that hope is not a strategy, but for India that's exactly what it became.

Yesterday, Ponting and Clarke took a leaf out of the English strategy and attacked India. They plundered runs at will and faced with the onslaught, the bowling wilted. Someone needs to care for Umesh Yadav quickly or he is in danger of losing it completely. He desperately needs a coach that can help him harness his talent and put it to effective use.

Ponting may celebrate his test century, but this is definitely not a sign of things to come for him. He may not find another bowling attack as friendly as the Indian one for a while. His class is not in doubt. His reflexes and hunger are definitely in doubt. Canny, conservative and age-adjusted batting can take you so far. Energy, enthusiasm, hunger, desire, goals and drive are essential for success. It's hard to judge if these wane with age, but several good batsmen have retired sooner than 38. Run production is not the sole metric to retain one's place in the team. Team chemistry, fielding and other intangibles count as merit as well. Ponting needs to articulate to himself what value he adds to the team and whether playing because he enjoys it and scores runs are the reasons to stay. Australian selectors are merciless when it comes to elbowing veterans out of the team. Steve Waugh was a case in point. Ponting's place is secure for now, but the day is not far off when the selectors come knocking.

In many ways, Australian batting has the same issues as India's does. The newer crop of batsman are unable to step up and make cricket matches their own. The seniors are constantly outdoing them. Unfortunately for India, their batsmen don't get to face their own bowlers, else they may rediscover form too. For India, there is no silver lining in all this. My belief is that the lack of production from seniors is demotivating Dhoni. He is no longer a captain that believes. India appears to be in for a long period of rebuild. A captaincy change does not make sense, but constant failure drains one out and suddenly keeping, batting and captaincy may be seeming burdensome to Dhoni.

Virat Kohli's failure puts additional pressure on Dhoni, Fletcher and the selectors. On the subject of Fletcher, if we count this test as lost, then this would be his seventh straight loss in Australia. We digress though. Kohli has been out of depth and it's time for him to be given some respite. He might yet find a way back into the team, like say a Michael Hayden or Navjyot Sidhu, but right now he is unsuited for the rigors of test batting. The middle of a tough series is unlikely to produce a breakthrough for him. It's time to try Rohit Sharma.

What this tells us though is that the case for the seniors going out of their own volition doesn't exist. Tendulkar may earn his keep, but Laxman and Dravid (despite his recent fine form) are clearly out of depth. Which brings us back to the point that it appears that India's best team is playing. Unfortunately, it's a mediocre team and it is not playing at a level befitting it's ranking.


elegantstroke said...


This is just the beginning for Kohli. He'll get better, more patience is needed; not a chopping mentality.

The fault is obviously with our batting failure in the first innings.

On Punter: I think we are on the verge of seeing a renaissance from him Tendulkar. He doesn't have the pressure of captaincy, which makes him gets his game right. My wild guesses: he'll retire after Ashes 2013. and I think Aussies will win the Ashes in England next summer.

Golandaaz said...

Vidoo, Do you remember how Ganguly (before his Test debut) Sanath, VVS, Sachin himself were in their initial days....

Kohli needs to be persisted...

Frankly, I have had enough of SRT, RD and VVS. Can't wait for a new look India side.

One thing's for sure, we don't have to worry about succession planning or managing retirements...with a 0-5 record in away tests, even if we replace the entire team.... there is a silver lining after all :-)

Vidooshak said...

My thinking with Kohli is that his confidence is dented. He started very well in Sydney and seemed to be hitting his stride. To, not having a century or a big 50 after so many innings is a sign that he's not ready. He'll not find "it" in Australia. Maybe like Gambhir he needs to find form in India and then try to take it overseas.

I'm not as confident about Punter. He plays in a team that doesn't make space for people to score centuries for themselves. So unless the top order keeps failing, Punter will have limited opportunities to play the way he did yesterday.

Vivek said...

Quite typical of this blog, now you have issues with punter when he and hussey are best batsmen in the current Aus team. Ok, they fail some-times but they are still the most reliable.

If not for Punter and Hussey, we would have better chance to draw the 1st test if not win it and yet according to this blog, they must be dropped.

And whatay logic about "team not making space for people to score centuries for themselves"? Is a century EVER for only oneself? Is it not added to the team score?? Please explain me how is it wrong for your middle order(for that matter any batsman) to score centuries.

I am not really a punter fan but the fact is he is still better than anybody in the aus team and still wins them matches. Whatever you have to say about our bowling attack, it is an international bowling attack and not from a minnow team and he deserves every bit of respect for the way he has played this series.

Vidooshak said...

Also very typical of you to read selectively and stick up for status quo. Thanks for visiting.