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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Art of Losing

The Indian Cricket Team is an enigma of sorts. Till today, I have never been able to say with 100 % confidence it would win the next game - even when it is playing against lowly placed nations such as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Kenya etc. On one day, they play like champions and on another, they just end up pauper. The latter is exactly what happened in the Asia Cup finals, the last Sunday. It was quite frustrating to watch the team unable to chase a paltry total of 229 and that too for a team boasting of players such as Sachin, Dravid, Saurav, Laxman etc.

The presence of VVS in the 1-day team has always surprised me. Many might be up in arms against me when I say this, but his records just prove that. In 87 test innings, he has got 7 100s and 19 50s. Thats 26 50+ scores in 87 innings or 33%, which is quite good and almost similar to Tendulkar's performance (33 100s, 37 50s in 187 innings or 33%). But his 1-day performances are just not upto the mark - 6 100s and 9 50s in 73 matches or 16.5 %. On the other hand, Sachin is consistent with 37 100s and 69 50s in 330 matches or 33%. Also, VVS is just a specialist slip fielder (but still manages to spill catches regularly!) and a liability in other areas in the field.

I am not trying to point the blame of the defeat solely on VVS. Of course, he did spill a catch in the slips of Sangakarra. [I remember, he dropped 5 catches in the TVS cup finals too!]. The 1-day game needs different types of players, who know how to improvise. VVS is still in the classical mould. People like S.Sriram, Gautam Gambhir, Rohan Gavaskar are waiting in the wings and they should be given a fair chance.

India's record in the final is also baffling. Under Ganguly's leadership, they have reaced 13 finals and lost 10 ! - thats an alarming percentage and something to be worried about. Its time we come out of our World Cup honeymoon and look ahead. Other teams such as England, Sri Lanka and even Pakistan have taken the cue and moved ahead.

I know, its just the beginning of the season and so, all the players are still rusty. But then thats the demands of the game. Look at Tendulkar - he has been playing for 16 years and yet, he still is willing to innovate in his game - whether trying out his new leg spin, or bowling around the legs to Jayawardene, or batting a long subdued innings etc. I think, players all around the world should take a leaf out his career.

Thats it for now - its a period of momentary frustration and sadness. Another tournament will begin and my hopes shall rise once again. But then knowing the Indian team, I shouldn't be too surprised, if I am disappointed.

Yet, I still hope ...