It has been a long summer for the Indian team. They have been on the road for a while, playing ODIs against Ireland and South Africa, an ODI against Pakistan (rained out), a few tour games, three Tests against England and an ODI against Scotland. The work load would have to catch up on the players at some point in time. And on todays’ evidence at the Rose Bowl in Southapton in the first day-night ODI against England, it has!
But the good news is that India has an opportunity to work on a few areas. There are specifically six areas that India must work on to be competitive in the remaining 6 games of the series. These are, in no particular order:
- running between wickets
- ground fielding,
- catching, and
- team balance
I am saying this only partly tongue-in-cheek! The real India wasn’t on the park today. Some may say that the real India hasn’t been on the park for quite a while now in ODIs! And that would perhaps be a fair cop for a team that has spluttered through the last few months. But there certainly were signs of recovery when India played South Africa in Ireland. So, I’d be willing to write this loss off as “early days yet” in the recovery process. And I said exactly this to a friend of mine who SMSd me during the latter part of the game saying, “Looks like normal programming has resumed”!
There are no silver bullets here really. The team just has to buckle down and start to play good cricket. They are capable of it.
In some respects, just as the Lords’ ‘excape’ was a fright for the team, I think this loss will be a good spur for the team. It is a seven-match series after all.
There will be some criticism of Rahul Dravid’s decision to bowl first on winning the toss. I am not sure what impact that decision would have had. Had the bowlers bowled well and to a plan, I am certain his decision would have been lauded as a brilliant one!
More importantly, however, I just do not believe that India has the right balance in its team though and that has to be the starting point. A Freddie Flintoff is a tremendous positive in terms of team-balance. Yes, India does not have an in-form allrounder to thrust into the team at the moment. So it must hope and pray that Gautam Gambhir is just keeping the seat warm for an in-form Irfan Pathan! In the absence of an Irfan Pathan or a Joginder Sharma or a Dinesh Mongia or a Praveen Kumar in the team, India may have to bite the bullet and go with 5 bowlers! It has to be an option that the team considers. Even if the team does not do that, I don’t believe this Gautam Gambhir experiment should continue.