By Sudhansu R Das
Team India’s embarrassing ten wicket loss to Pakistan, eight wicket loss to New Zealand and its early exit before the IPL world cup semifinal raised many questions about the team’s preparedness, players’ selection, core strength, genuine analysis from cricket experts, coaching ability, leadership and the captain’s ability to change strategy as per the game situation etc. Though India registered the highest IPL total of 210 runs against Afghanistan, chased 83 runs in only 39 balls against Scotland and a nine wicket victory over Namibia, all these things cannot hide Team India’s lack of preparedness for the IPL World Cup.
India had entered the tournament with over confidence. The first three world cup matches exposed India’s bowling attack which lacked quality back up pace bowler and a quality spinner. India’s spin attack has improved a bit after the inclusion of Ravichandra Aswini; both Aswini and Jadeja bowled in tandem against Afghanistan. Though Ravindra Jadeja has grown into a good all rounder, his bowling on flat wickets does not help much. Exclusion of Ashwini in the first two matches was a blunder. Team India should have picked up experienced Sikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaekwad and Yajuvendra Chahal in the team.
This IPL world cup belongs to the bold and the strong people with technique and extraordinary fielding skill. A mistimed shot from a batsman with physical strength can clear the boundary line for a six. Look how Chris Gyle hits sixes with effortless ease; Gyle’s technique is backed by his enormous physical strength. In the match against New Zealand our six top order batsmen were caught deep in the boundary line because they mistimed and could not clear the fence due to lack of extra strength.
Rohit Sharma has the strength and the ability to play a wide range of strokes but a quality fast bowler with swing continues to trouble him in the initial over. The team heavily depended on Rohit Sharma’s batting instead of developing dependable middle order and slug over specialists.
Virat Kohli seems to be leaving his former self as a grand finisher; he becomes clueless under pressure. Kohli depends on a straight forward “bat and bowl well type approach” to win the match. It does not always work at a high level of competition. Winning a match needs strategic thinking and shrewd moves which always store surprises for the opponents. Kohli can return to his original form and play for another three to four years without the pressure of captainship. It is high time for the team management to relieve Kohli from captainship for good reason. Each and every player of the Indian team should fight for his place and selection should be done on the basis of present form only. Besides, young players should always be tried against tough teams; the domestic IPL matches are in fact not the right place to judge the players’ ability. For testing the players against the tough teams, our top order Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli should make room for the youngsters in some matches. It will help find genuine talents.
India should hunt for tough breeds like Yuvraj Singh, Virendra Shehwag, M S Dhoni, Sandeep Patil and Kapil Dev who had raw strength, courage and skill to achieve unpredictable things and made cricket a game of glorious uncertainties. Ordinary batsmen simply crumble but those who have courage take the fight to the opponent’s camp. When a quality pace bowler or spinner spins his web around the batsman on a grass top bowler friendly wicket with good field setting, you are left with the only option to hit the bowler out of the rope. When wind blows to support the pace and swing the batsman needs the courage and the indomitable will to tame the bowler. The future cricket belongs to the fearless and strong players with beautiful minds.
The team management should go extra miles to find the right talent in small states, districts and towns. Quality allrounders who can be slug over specialists should be identified through a transparent selection process which should begin from the district level. Cricket should not be the domain of the rich and the influential people.