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Perils Of Victory 
Reflection and Retrospection of Indian cricket
By S. Zeyaur Rahman  

Victory is always sweet. It has an encouraging and electrifying effect on the winning team. It may seem ridiculous to imagine that victory may not have positive consequences. The first major casualty of success is reflection and retrospection, a very vital ingredient. One does not find many a thoughtful faces on a victory lap or deep furrows on the forehead while lifting a trophy. 

India has had the fortune (or misfortune) of being a victorious side many a times. It has recorded spectacular results in both the versions of the game, albeit inconsistently so. It was natural that nobody ever sat down to analyze these victories and take steps to make them a permanent feature.
It was only after a thrashing that the post mortem was conducted and only after a serious malady was diagnosed that a remedy was suggested.

We have won yet another series and added yet another feather to our cap if not another jewel in the crown. This victory is bound to give us a feeling that everything is fine and we can jolly well continue the way we are. All the past and recent defeats and humiliations will be forgiven and forgotten.  A victory at home. It does have a special meaning for every country. But not when it is India. The way India has defeated, destroyed and demolished every single side at home with a monotonous regularity that the entire exercise appears mundane if not a farce. We could not have avoided winning even after fixing a couple of them. A decade of unbeaten record at home. But abroad?

Till date India has won only 14 Test matches abroad and three in the past fifteen years. We needed a debutant like Bangladesh to record our first 'overseas' victory in seven years. There were a couple of very near misses but like all would-have-beens, they should be allowed to rest. The stunning regularity and predictability with which India has catapulted overseas is shameful.  But we made up for that by breaking all records at home with series after series of brown wash.

I would not be solving a mystery, if I say that the ineptness of our batsmen against fast bowling is the root cause. Every frontline Indian batsman has performed brilliantly, even abroad, but that was never enough to provide us with more than 3 victories in the past 15 years. The spineless displays of these very batsmen comprehensively outnumber the occasions when they had stood their ground to ensure a draw let alone a victory.

Not knowing the cause is one thing and not taking any steps to rectify the disorder is another. Our cricket system falls in the second category. For an entire decade it ordered doctored pitches as a tonic for a defeated team. And the team never disappointed. A tacit quid pro quo. You give me a doctored pitch and I will give you a victory, to distort one of our famous national slogans. All kinds of suggestions and theories have been floated in order to get rid of this chronic problem. Ideas ranging from harshly realistic to absurdly idealistic have been provided but little has been done apart from setting up of a couple of academies and pace foundations.

A common suggestion is to prepare sporting pitches for a domestic series. That will rob us off an opportunity of making up for abroad losses through home victory and disappoint the fans. We know what has happened to us at Mohali. The Kiwis scuttled us for less than hundred and earlier we squandered the golden opportunity to end the unbeaten record of West Indies. Even the morning dew is enough to account for our collapses as Donald and Kasprovicz have proved on two occasions. 

The second idea is to prepare sporting tracks for our domestic cricket. Nothing could be more welcome than that except for the risk of running out of batsmen who can play spin and bowlers who can tweak the ball. Nonetheless one finds that something quick and far reaching must be done. The least we can do is to give our batsmen more exposure to fast tracks and hostile bowling with regularity. A test in Mohali once in three years will not do. 

I understand the need to prepare a turner, when the Kangaroos and the Proteas visit us. But when less lethal sides like Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and New Zealand come calling, then we must have green tops, at least in some matches of the series. A victory at any such venue would do our batsmen a world of good. Similarly we can have a quota of fast track matches for every Ranji side. Say one of the four Round Robin ones. Or the Knock out round to be placed on fast pitches and so on.

Unless we give our batsmen a feel of genuine fast bowling, nothing is going to help. What about having Dravid or Ganguly play for Tasmania or Transval for some of their matches? Which side would not want to have crowd pullers like them? Conversely we can have a Donald or Lee bowling in our domestic championship. I am sure that the state associations are rich enough to afford that. To say in short, why do not we have a foreign player quota like the English have? Apart from breathing in a new freshness to our boring championships, it would give our youngsters a nice idea of the world outside. I seriously place this propositions before the board for consideration. Six months of Ranji Trophy may be too much. But we can certainly have the services of foreign players in the knock out stages or at least in the Duleep Trophy.

The step would help our players in their transition phase. We will not end up with a long list of players like Raman, Rathor, Martin, Kanitkar etc, who could not convert their triple centuries into 50's at the Test level. And of course avoiding the home series from becoming a fixed affair.

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Where have all the players gone…?

The Indian Cricket Team- rather a tragic rendition of harassed, angst –ridden players. If you please, shall we start with the coach himself? Even without the infamous match fixing allegations looming over his head, Kapil Dev had been struggling with his responsibility. Add to that the pressure of being accused of the scam. He even was aware that certain people in the board too were against him. What kind of influence would that be on the team?

Come down to the players. The captain first Saurav Ganguly has managed to keep up the tradition that I guess, he has sworn to follow. Once again, he lost the toss. This was the 11th loss for the toss in the last 12 tries. In fact, just a day earlier Ganguly was quite scathing about both Azhar and Jadeja.

Talking of Azhar, we know the pressure he is under, too. Did that show in his unceremonious exit after scoring shameful “One run”?

Tendulkar, of course had clearly indicated during the Australian tour that he did not quite fancy Azhar playing on his side. So, the key numbers four and five in the batting line up did not merit the trust of each other.

Now, come down to the bowlers. Srinath very conveniently opted out of playing one day Internationals. And yes, the loss showed Agarkar’s recent form is definitely nothing to write home about.

That leaves out Anil Kumble, who had to be put in early in the game. So, India’s only credible bowler was used up even before the middle, when he would be needed the most. Bhandari, of course did the best that he could. But then, the pressure was strong and they all succumbed to it.

They all succumbed to it – and India lost to Pakistan. 

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Downfall of Indian Cricket.............

It looks that Indian team and its selectors have not learnt from their past experience and would never learn in the future too. The team is into shatters and there is no one who can stitch its torn clothes.

Every time there is a match, a new hope arises, hundred million of us crave, beg for Victory but failure is what is dropped in our hands. Infact now even hope is beginning to wonder whether it should hang around this team or not.

Cricket is the passion of Indians but still no standard equipment is provided to the players for practicing. For e.g. bowling machines remains an unknown device, there are no means of assimilating the statistical information, players don’t follow the instructions given by their trainer. There is something fatalistic, laid-back about this team , as if it believes India is still a land of magic and miracles, where everything will take care of itself.

Our team is highly unprofessional and they lack commitment as well as the will to win for their country. Somebody please tell them that in this world of competition, competitive cricket requires not only a professional support but also an instinct to win, that arrives only through hard-work and self -confidence. They have to be fit and tough not only physically but mentally also. As per Tendulkar "Players have the talent but they have to think on the field". Pleeeeeee….ase tell them that they think too much, infact what they do is only thinking and no playing. We (all the Indians) request you to wake up, wakeup because the game is changing, the style and attitude is changing and if you can't keep up with the changing pace then you have no right to be in the team because Indian cricket should not suffer of individual's incompetence.

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INDIA : Time for change

Last few years have seen a great change in World cricket. There has been change in every aspect of the game. Batting, bowling, fielding, umpiring, coaching......... But the Indian cricket system refuses to "budge". There is little wonder that the team is losing at home and abroad, losing One-days, losing Tests. It seems like a never ending story becoming never ever..............ever………ending story until some drastic and fast changes are made. Moh. Azhar’s comeback clearly indicates the lack of quality players in the country, not a single player could be found to fill his place. There is a huge gap between Domestic and International cricket. Young players with potential should be exposed to more International cricket so that they do not crumble when the right time comes. Team ‘A’ should be sent to more tours Internationally so that the conditions are not alien to young players fighting for a place in the   senior team.

New coaching techniques did wonders for the Sri Lankan team, it’s time to get rid of the ancient system and induce new methods. It’s time to change the selection techniques, it’s time to book your tickets for the jet………….the days of the Bullock cart are over...

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