As Michael Douglas said in his speech from the forgettable WallStreet: Money never sleeps, “You don’t know it yet, but you are pretty much fucked.” Similar is the state of Indian cricket team.
No, Indian cricket is not in doldrums like some other contemporaries. Neither are there any known administrative hassles, apart from of course a highly corrupt BCCI president re-instated even after massive match-fixing allegations. But the problem is with the team.
Hardly after the departure of one of the most illustrious captain (read Saurav Ganguly) and later the brilliant coach (Gary Kirsten) has the team been able to perform outstandingly on foreign pitches. The recent defeat to New Zealand only appends the long list of ignominious fiascos that have accompanied India on a foreign tour. India could have even lost 2-0 to South Africa last year had it not been for their last minute goof-up.
And even a non-follower of cricket would attribute these failures to anemic performances by the bowlers. And he would not have been entirely wrong. Barring some stump-wrecking (literally) performances by Shami, Indian bowlers put up a lack-lustre show. Even Bhuvaneshwar Kumar could not meet the expectations. Ashwin was at his forgettable best, however Jadeja made a strong comeback in the second test. But enough of bowler bashing. Ever since I have started following cricket closely, I have hardly seen Indian bowlers being considered as consistent match-winners. The fact remains that our neighbouring country cultivates far more competent bowlers. It is Pakistan whose bowlers have been hailed as the stalwarts of the game and will continue to do so.
The opening pair, although I disapprove of Rohit Sharma, also rose to the occasion many times. But the main problem is in its middle order. In tests, barring Cheteshwar Pujara and Kohli, no one has tried to anchor the innings. In ODIs, the situation is even worse without Pujara. It is very unfortunate for a player of such class as Pujara to be type-cast into a quintessential test player. In no time, he, just like his predecessor Dravid, will break the shackles of conventional ideologies and secure a place in ODI. He has to, because India has no other option. Raina has been failing consistently and Yuvraj seems to have lost his form to impatience. In response to his critics, he actually plays a lot faster than Rohit Sharma in ODIs. 😛
In all, the middle order is what India should be concerned about. Bringing Pujara will more than solve this problem. Apart from that, Gautam Gambhir is also an option worth considering as replacement to Rohit Sharma. But may be Dhoni’s ego won’t allow for it. Coming to Dhoni, it’s time we actually start having multiple captains. Although I have no doubts about the onus Dhoni’s capable shoulders can carry, multiple captains will actually bring a lot of diversity to the team and more batting flexibility to Dhoni.
May be India should take a leaf out of Australia’s phenomenal turnaround and have a genuine allrounder as Faulkner to lift up an innings from stupor.
Wait! I almost forgot. Sane people do not call the shots here.