Tigers at home; Lambs abroad
Five reasons why India wouldn’t be successful abroad
By Goutam Das

India did exceedingly well against Zimbabwe, winning both the test and the ODI series. For many Indians, it has to some extent, revived the flagging interest in the game, which is otherwise clouded by the betting scandal. But will these victories bring about a renaissance in Indian cricket? While going gaga over the recent victories and the brilliant performances, one should not fail to overlook two simple facts. One, India was playing on home ground, and two, their opponents were Zimbabwe, a team that is not much reputed. These factors lead us to a fundamental premise-the Indian performance overseas can be distressing, embarrassing even.

There are five major reasons for this. Firstly, the condition of the Indian pitches and grounds are deplorable. The domestic matches are played on flat pitches that are slow. As a consequence of which, the players become vulnerable against pace attack on a fast wicket. The majority of the present Indian cricketers, are ill groomed, technically and mentally in equipped to play in Australia or South Africa. Till such time the qualities of domestic pitches are improved, India hardly stands a chance of surviving overseas. India could probably follow the Australian model-fifty percent of their wickets are fast and the rest are slow, spinning tracks. This domestic setup partly explains why the Australians are comfortable in any part of the world.

The second draw back in the Indian team is its middle order. It does not take a big cricketing power to expose its in-experience. Once the top three batsmen are out early, the team finds itself in a spot. India lacks a quality all rounder. Robin Singh, to an extent matched Kapil Dev in that position. Sadly, he is touching 40. How long can he be expected to serve the country?

The third problem area is the wicket keeper’s slot. Nobody has yet equaled Kirmani’s caliber and whether the selector’s agree or not, it is perhaps one of the most vulnerable positions in the Indian line-up. It is not sufficient to have a player who is a good wicket keeper. He must be a decent batsman too-a batsman who can play a mature innings lower down the order or get the team off to a flying start.

To add to India’s cup of woes, the bowling department has proved to be a power that is meek. Kumble is horribly inconsistent and so is Srinath. Agarkar is expensive and Zaheer is inexperienced. They do bowl well, but only on their days. Cricket is a team game and collective results are what matters. Individual brilliance can win matches occasionally, not always.

Finally, for India to be successful, an ideal team leader (read skipper) is required. Azharuddin was a poor captain but a lucky one. Tendulkar was innovative but lady luck never crossed his way. All that we have seen of Ganguly so far is his erratic nature, his continued tirade with the umpires and his scheme of over doing things. He certainly is not the cool headed captain who gets tougher when the going gets tough. What can be more embarrassing than seeing the captain of a team sitting out of a match due to a suspension notice for bad behaviour?

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