Daily Archives: 11 August 2008

Silver Lining…

India’s loss to Sri Lanka in the Test series, with the Flab Four indulging in a “rabbits in headlights” muddle through, resulted in a silver-lining for a perpetual recent bridesmaid of Indian cricket. Thanks to Sachin Tendulkar injuring himself in the 3rd Test, Badrinath got a call-up as his replacement for the ODIs.

Earlier, Badrinath had spoken out fiercely for the first time on being overlooked yet again. The appalling aspect of his initial non-selection was that none of the selectors bothered talking to him about where he actually stood and whether or not he was at all in the frame. Surely, this is not the way to go about team selection! If selection is all about putting a team on the park for the next game, any dill would do!

Badrinath said earlier, “I’m lost, I don’t know where to go from here. None of the selectors have ever told me where I actually stand. I would love to know where I am lacking so that I can work on that.”

Worse still, after being “over taken” first by Rohit Sharma and then by Manoj Tiwary, the last straw for him was when he was over-taken by Virat Kohli.

When asked, Bupinder Singh Sr, one of the selectors, said that selection matters were confidential — so much for transparency!

Anyway, Team India’s Test Series loss, and Sachin Tendulkar’s injury meant a silver lining amidst a dark cloud.

Subsequent to this loss, I can’t imagine that a “do nothing strategy” will work for the selectors. It has worked quite elegantly for India up until now. There will be shrill calls for team change — often the only way change really happens in India!

Effigy makers are already rubbing their hands in glee as they hear their cash registers ring! I guess that’s the only way change is possible in Indian cricket! Sigh!

After all… When a “Why fix it, unless it is totally and irreparably broken?” mantra is the over-riding philosophy, what’s the point of a strategic plan? Crisis Management is the name of the game. Always.

Anil Kumble has been horribly unlucky with the “Review” system in the Test Series against Sri Lanka. He is bound to head back home dejected and disappointed not merely because of his misfortune with the “review” system! But because he has a far more important “Review” on his hands as he heads back to Bangalore to cool his heels. He would need to carry out a fearless and frank “Review” of Indian cricket’s strategic road-map. One is needed desperately and neither the BCCI nor the selectors have shown either the wherewithal or the interest or the courage to carry it out. It has to be up to Anil Kumble. He needs to “Review” Indian cricket and where it is headed in the next 5 years, which, despite the doomsday-ness of my postulation, is in desperate need for a large dose of courage.

Currently, when it comes to a strategic roadmap for Indian cricket, Anil Kumble has the luxury — another silver lining perhaps? — of having a blank piece of paper to work with. The people charged with this responsibility seem to have their hands only on confidentiality clauses and, of course, the cash register! That lot and the effigy-makers are making the money while Indian cricket suffers!

Meanwhile, more meaningless ODI cricket awaits us. A few wins there will make us forget this tragic loss, which, one hopes, will not be brushed under tattered and listless carpets.

— Mohan

Flab Four about to hand over series to Sri Lanka

This may be a headline that is written too soon — and I agree that it is the person who lives dangerously that writes off a Dravid-Laxman-led revival. However, I would be most surprised if India wins this Test match from here. India go into day-4 just 14 runs ahead and with most of their recognised batsmen back in the hut. Dravid and a limping-Laxman would perhaps need to live in Harry-Porter-Land to pull this one off.

Harbhajan Singh is looking for a miracle from Dravid and Laxman! He said, at the conclusion of the 3rd days’ play, “We are looking to have good partnership in the morning. I hope Laxman and Dravid play what they played in Kolkata (in 2001) and put us in a good situation. And from there if we win the game it will be a great win for Indian cricket.” He then went on to have a dig at the batsmen, when he said, “Obviously, it is a little disappointment that as a batting unit we did not perform what we should actually have. These are the guys who have won games for India. It is just a matter of not clicking perhaps.”

The peach, however, was when he attributed Ajanta Mendis’s phenomenal rise to luck! “I wish I could pick his luck, the wicket taking luck. We all bowl the same sort of delivery. Obviously he is new in international cricket. The more the people play him the more they will get to see him. More people will learn about him. Obviously he got some variation and every ball have variations. Basically I would like to steal his luck. Wicket taking luck!”

Hmmm! That explains a lot then! Harbhajan Singh puts down his own miserable run with the ball to lack of luck! It is not about bowling tripe. It is not about the miserable fielding that the Indians have displayed in this series. It is about wicket-taking luck!

For the state that Team India finds herself in, one can blame the fielding — and it has been bad. But then, one could mount an argument that it has always been bad! So, whats’ new? One can blame the bowling — and it has been inconsistent and insipid. But then it always has been an inconsistent area for India!

For me and my money, the Team India state is reflected by its middle order batting. It is the insipid middle order batting that has made the difference in this series. India’s middle-order was its strength. It is not at this current point in time. Time after time, good starts have been squandered by acts that remind us of rabbits and headlights! There is a certain nervous tentativeness about the middle order batting that does not bode well for Indian cricket.

Although Muthiah Muralitharan and Ajanta Mendis have bowled splendidly, I am convinced that India’s much celebrated “F(L)ab Four” haven’t contributed to the series situation. As Dileep Premachandran said in his piece in Cricinfo, there has been a muddle order about the Indian middle order in this series.

India went into this series against Sri Lanka with a much-celebrated middle order. They are returning from the series with more questions than answers. I am sure that the call for the slow (perhaps forced) retirement of the celebrated four will only grow to shrill-pitch when the team returns to India regardless of the outcome of the current Test match!

— Mohan