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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Back to Earth !

After the initial euphoria of winning back-2-back 1 day internationals against Pakistan, India is now back to earth with a thud. They managed to lose the last 4 1-dayers and with that the series is lost. It might have come as a shock to many who had been hoping for a complete domination by the Indian side. Though I knew Pakistan was a very good 1-day team (see analysis below), the result took me also as a surprise. Let us look at some of the reasons why India fared so badly:

  1. None of the bowlers barring Harbhajan and probably Zaheer Khan could adapt to the pitches and bowl intelligently. I feel that is the irony of the whole situation - if you cannot learn to bowl on your Home pitches, then where will you be able to bowl ? Nehra went constantly over 70 runs in his 10 overs, Balaji looked listless in his bowling, Pathan seemed to have lost his magical touch of taking wickets and Ajit Agarkar was as inconsistent as ever. When will they learn ? - today, there is a not a single quality fast bowler in India - a bowler who can run through a side and that is pretty much shocking !


  2. The form of the Indian batsmen has been a constant source of worry this season. Barring Rahul Dravid and Sehwag, none of the batsmen have been consistent. Sachin showed flashes of his brilliance, Yuvraj showed that he can tonk the ball hard and Kaif showed that he had it in him to be a good batsmen, but the unfortunate part is that they are not consistent. A good innings in 6-7 matches is no good - you have to constantly perform, especially in today's competitive world where there are so many talented youngsters waiting in the wing.


  3. Ganguly's horrible run of form - if batsmen mentioned above had a poor season with the bat, Ganguly had a nightmare. In fact, it came down to such an extent that people felt that the ban imposed on Ganguly for 6 matches for the slow over-rate was considered a blessing for all and sundry - himself, the team and the public. He needs to take a break, then start playing with a fresh mind and start hitting those big sixers. Hopefully, he will be back with a bang.


  4. No clear strategy against Pakistan - India seemed to have no strategy against the Pakistan batsmen. Shahid Afridi is a batsman who starts hitting the ball blindly from the 1st delivery and always gives you chances. But time and again, our bowlers would just bowl in the slot waiting to be slaughtered by Afridi. Of course, once Afridi gives you the start, then you don't need to worry about anything - play with a cool mind and any target then becomes small. Also, the form of the Pakistan batsmen was constantly good - Youhana, Inzi, Razzaq, Shoaib Malik all performed when required.


  5. Enough said about the problems about the Indian team. I think we must also acknowledge the fact that Pakistan looked a better and balanced team in the 1-dayers. They have 3 all-rounders in the team - Afridi, Razzaq and Malik, all of whom can be relied upon to bowl 10 overs and also score some useful runs. On the other hand, India doesn't even have a single player who can do that. That, I think, was probably what hit India the most. India seriously needs to find 3-dimensional players - read Woolmer's article on this view.


  6. So, this season ends on a pretty bitter note - they really need to pull up their socks and get their act together. The "Caribbeans in 2007" is not so far from here - we need to get a strong team built up before that.
Cheers !

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