Monday, August 8, 2016

It's enjoyable watching India in tests.....

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Watching India play test cricket has never been more enjoyable than now. The only other time India played more entertaining cricket across any format was in the 1985 B&H World Series in Australia. This was an ODI tournament. Whether the TV made it that way or whether the flamboyant keeper Sadanand Vishwanath did that I can't say, but it was mind blowingly entertaining.

This test team is by far the most entertaining Indian side I have watch in my lifetime. It plays riskier cricket than the Azhar-Tendulkar generations did  or the Kapil/Gavaskar one before that and plays more solidly at the same time. A cool paradox, if you ask me. While the Tendulkar generation has accumulated a number of runs and records, this generation will accumulate more wins. Virat Kohli is the lynch pin of this transformation. Much like Clive Lloyd transformed the West Indies from merry losers to into fearsome winners, Virat is transforming Indian cricket from a team afraid of losing to a team daring to be beaten.

The most refreshing thing about Virat is that he is not afraid to lose. Between the lines I read, we used to lose anyways, why not lose fighting? At least give ourselves a chance. Change the reaction of the opposition with the team's attitude. I love his persistence with Umesh Yadav, who hasn't truly delivered yet, but from time to time delivered breathtaking spells that make one sit up with bated breath. The pressure he creates when on song and when he makes the batsmen hop is a connoisseur's dream. The bowling attack will create more wins. It needs a little more time. They are not in the same class as England or Australia, but those two teams possess generations of fast bowling knowledge. The Indian team is just starting out.

Appointing Kumble as coach has been a mistake in my opinion. But not a big one. Kumble will hopefully not be tainted by the safety first attitude of the Tendulkar/Ganguly era in overseas tests. Virat's refusal to include a sixth batsman is awesome. It may fail at times or even many times, but it's the only strategy that gives India a shot at winning more test matches. Four bowlers will tire after 2-3 test matches. Five bowlers can last longer assuming they bowl 30-45 overs per test. Srinath used to be run into the ground by his captains bowling 45-60 overs per test. Kumble's strike rates also tell a tale of overworked bowlers. It's a lose-lose proposition.

India won the first test with ease and put themselves into a winning position in the second. The wins will come with more experience of bowling with five bowlers. The new era is now underway and for one this writer is back watching test cricket after the listless last years of Tendulkar and Dhoni.

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