Monday, December 9, 2013

Show some heart

Best Blog Tips

In an analysis of England's abject surrender at Adelaide, Cricinfo cited the very public loss of control. Batsman after English batsman openly showed their inability to counter Johnson and the rest of Australia's bowling. They just didn't seem to have a plan. As I watched the proceedings of both test matches, it seemed to me that England were just hoping that something would come off as opposed to a confident clear mind to pull or hook Johnson out of the attack. This attitude and batting seemed to me to be very strange, given that until recently Cook, Trott, Bell and others seemed to almost be mocking the Australian attack. They were in complete control. They would play the shots they had planned to play and block or leave everything else flung at them. How quickly did the English lose that plot? Did sheer pace do that to them? Did India's senior batsmen also succumb to sheer pace on their last trip down under? Or was it just mental fatigue? They just didn't have the reserves to stick with their plan. Did sledging and constant goading by Australia do it's part? It's very hard to say.

India's lowest moment against pace came not two or three years ago but way back in 1976 when Bedi virtually conceded a test match to the West Indies. He followed up on that act by conceding yet another game to Pakistan two years later. India's weird stance at the time was to claim a moral high ground by saying that intimidatory bowling was not cricket. That somehow it wasn't fair. The fact is that India just didn't have the leadership to cope with the pace. It had quality batsmen who eventually played pace with heart - Gavaskar, Gaekwad, Amarnath, Vishwanath and Vengsarkar. But in those two instances they didn't have the leadership or a plan to deal with what was thrown at them. Sports is also a type of battle. It's physical and it's mental. There are statements to be made, adversity to be overcome and hostility to be quelled many times.

India did very well on their last trip to South Africa. They had a superb plan for Steyn and company and executed it very well. They also unleashed Sreesanth on the South Africans. The tail-enders took some body blows and the team came back with its head held high. Gone was the crazy flailing that we routinely saw of the Azharuddin teams of the nineties against pace. As a fan of test cricket that's what we want to see. Whether the team shows heart. It may sometimes not have the ammo to fight the opposition but does it have the courage? Does it have the smarts? Does the team stay in the fight as long as it can? Sometimes it may know that it's going to lose, but does it still fight till the last ounce of energy?

In the two ODIs that we have seen so far, India's batsmen may have failed, but they didn't surrender. They are wanting in their technique but they seem have the heart. Suresh Raina ducked into a few but also executed some really good pulls. It's clear he's trying harder to counter the short stuff. He's facing up to it. Dhawan still needs some work, but both Rohit and Kohli appear to want to get in there and counter punch. Sharma especially in the first ODI was impressive. He left a lot of balls alone despite the huge total to chase. He knew he couldn't mindlessly attack and had to wait his turn. Raina did panic somewhat and unfortunately ran him out, but then he came back in ODI number 2 and hung in there. The bottom line is that these guys seem to want to improve. They seem to want to be world beaters. They seem to have a desire to succeed against all comers. There is a West Indies of the late 70s feel to this team's batting attitude. It may not yet have all the skill.

And as a fan, I like that. I want to see a fight, not a surrender. I want to see Cook, Pietersen and Bell counter Johnson. Likewise, I want to see Rohit, Kohli and Pujara blunt Steyn and Morkel. I want them to figure out Philander. India may yet lose the series because the bowlers lack experience and quality but it would be nice to see the team show heart. They are also a watchable bunch. Kohli, Sharma, Pujara, Dhawan and Dhoni are eminently watchable.

I'm hoping that the batting continues to evolve in the third ODI and gets somewhat ready by test match number 1. Give the fans a watchable performance. Where they are not insulted by the lack of heart. And that would be good news for India's test match fans. And also good footing for the future overseas tours to come in the next 8 months.

1 comment:

Debotosh said...

nice read ...
do pour in your views and opinions on my blog here -