at home; Lambs abroad
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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