Its not as bad as it looks…


Did the Indian team take a beating in Sydney? Hell, yeah! Will India square the series? Most likely not. Is the Indian team as bad as the media and former players make it sound? I don’t think so. But it is not as bad as it looks…

I’ve been going to the MCG for every Test match India has played there since I moved to Australia in 1998 and in most of these cases, very well knowing India would lose. Yet, I went there, waved the Indian flag, took some abuse at Bay 13 and cheered for my team. There is no shame in losing to a better team – all we fans ask is for our team to try its best and play with pride.

The test played this year was probably different because I honestly believed the teams were matched evenly and India had a chance of winning. In fact, one could argue that the end result of the match doesn’t truly reflect how close the game was. India was in with a chance even at the end of Day 3. The fourth day performance cost them the game.

At Sydney, we took a solid beating – there was probably not one session that India dominated, and even when we did fight back with the bat to get to 400, it was just too late. But again, India lost the match because of their performance on one day of the match – Day 1. If India had lost the toss and if Australia had batted (or if we had put them in), things could have been very different – the pitch did flatten out by end of the day, and Australia were presented with one of the best surfaces to bat on. I am not taking anything away from Australia – they truly were the better team and deserved to win, and personally think India should have fought harder but the fans shouldn’t totally write the team off or think of it as the end of the road for this team. I think we can still fight back.

What do we do?

Sometimes we just need to be reminded of the basics. Here is what I think India need to focus on:

  • Get through the early 20 overs without losing a wicket: I know it sounds like common sense, but we just aren’t doing it. We need to be 45 – 50 for no loss at the end of those 20 overs, and see the new ball through. Once the new ball bowlers have all bowled their first spell, they are less likely to be big threat. With Sehwag batting, it is likely the score could be a lot higher than 50 at the end of 20 overs, but I’d rather have no wickets fall in the first period than have a flurry of runs. The main job of the openers would be to see the new ball through. Just stick to it.
  • Think partnerships: At Sydney, India had only one 50-run partnership, and that too the 7th wicket. We did a lot better in the second innings with one 100-run partnership and three 50 run partnerships. At Melbourne, we had one 100-run and one 50-run partnership in the 1st innings, and none in the second! We’ve got to start working on these things. I’d say that to get to a 300+ score, we need a few good partnerships – at least one 100+ partnership and two 50+ partnerships.
  • Play session by session: A session is roughly about 30 overs. India needs to stop worrying about the over all game and play session by session. If they are batting, they’ve got to think about getting through that session without losing too many wickets. If the main batsmen are playing, we have to think about losing not more than 2 wickets in one session. So, if we lose 6 wickets in one day, but have scored about 260-280 all up, I’ll take that in Perth. If we are bowling, our target should be pretty much the same – 2 wickets/session if the top 6 are playing and try and get the rest out in one session. Having said that, we shouldn’t get bogged down if a session doesn’t go according to plan – the next session is a new session; plan and play accordingly.
  • Australia effectively are playing with 3 bowlers: Pattinson/Harris , Siddle, and Hilfenhaus. Lyon is not a threat – I repeat, not a threat. He has not troubled our batsmen one bit – but the thing is that India are already  in trouble before he comes in to bowl! Between Harris, Siddle and Hiflenhaus, they can probably bowl 60-65 overs in a day. Of that only about 30 are with the new ball. We also need to play these bowlers spell by spell. If Siddle has a good spell, see him through the next 5-6 overs; he will have to be replaced. The batsmen just need to keep this in mind. Also, Hilfenhaus is a lot more dangerous with the new ball than with the old one – we just need to keep these things in mind.
  • Tactical changes: Sometimes plans just don’t work. And if they don’t, there is no point in persisting with it. The first thing is to recognise that something isn’t working – we seem to be in denial mode and keep plugging away with the same plans. For instance, if the batting isn’t clicking as a unit, we need to do something about it. Perhaps open with Dravid and Sehwag, get Laxman to come in at #3, and get Gambhir to bat down the order. Maybe we need to try something different with the bowling too. I may not have the right suggestions, but I do know that if something isn’t working, we need to change it.
  • Take inspiration from the Perth win from the last tour: I do not have anything more to say on that. Green top. Steep bounce. Whatever. If it is going to trouble the Indian batsmen, it will trouble the Aussie batsmen too. Keep that in mind.
  • Shut out the negative comments/vibes: Gavaskar thinks X, Akram says Y and Chappel chirps in with Z. “The Indian team’s body language is bad”. “There is tension with-in the team”. “Blah, Blah, blah”. The Indian team just needs to ignore what everyone else thinks and just go out there and play the best cricket they possibly can. They may still lose, but I can forgive them for that….as long as they give their best.

It ain’t over till its over

The series isn’t over yet. We took a beating in England and we’ve taken a beating in the first two tests. But the team isn’t as bad as it is being made out to be.

We have an awesome, aggressive opener in Sehwag and a great fighter in Gambhir to open the batting. We have one of the best middle orders in the world (aging or not). And a great captain and WK to boot. We also have the best bowling attack that we’ve taken to Australia in recent times. Just concentrate on the positives.

C’mon Team India. Let us see some fight! And on that note, I leave you with this song for inspiration…

Chak de, India!

 

-Mahesh-

13 responses to “Its not as bad as it looks…

  1. All your suggestions are important but basic stuff in Test cricket. It is surprising that with three senior cricketers, coach and support staff in their side Team India failed to see points 1-4 that you have mentioned. I think the key here is point 5 “Tactical Changes”. We shall come to know very soon whether Team India is still in denial mode.

  2. India had their chances in Melb test to consolidat and drive home their advantage at both when they were 214 for 3 on Day 2 and when Aus was 27 for 4 but let them get away. Similarly in sydney they had Aus fighting at 37 for 3. So not a bad effort by India but need to get on top when going is good. Their time in the sun will certainly come……..

  3. I was waiting for one of you guys to explain what has been happening … a fair report here … I do hope the abuse was not to bad at the MCG … Apologies for that …. It does happen in all countries I guess (unfortunately) – I have copped it at Mohali.

  4. The media is clamoring for changes to the Indian team.

    Laxman to be dropped – Rohit Sharma in (Sanjay Manrekar)

    Ashwin to be dropped – Ohja in (Saurav Ganguly, perhaps, anti-TN bias)

    Ishant Sharman (veteran of 43 tests) to be dropped. – not taking wickets at all. Abhimanyu Mithun in ?

  5. ayyo, it is worse than it looks… i am ready to burst into tears.

  6. Karma—Poorva Janma Karma
    What goes around comes around.
    I can hear Steve Bucknor, Daryl Harper and Irfan Pathan singing loudly–
    “Venkataramana Govinda Govinda”
    “Bajanai Seivom Dhoni Naamam, Naamam–Bajanai Seivom Dhoni Naamam-Naamam—Pattini kidandhu, Bajanai Seivom Srikkanth Naamam
    Saranam Saranam Warnerappa!!
    Arohara—Arohara

  7. yeah … things are real bad … so looking forward to todays play

  8. yeah … i was right … i like playing you guys

  9. My disclaimers first: Not taking anything away from the past performances and as a cricketing nation we owe these guys tremendous gratitude – this not only includes the Fab 3 but also MSD as a captian in all formats of the game so please refrain from “don’t you remember such and such performance from so and so in such and such year”.
    I watched all the three test matches live from NZ (we only get the Fox telecast and so get to listen only to the “parochial” Australians in the commentary team). Forget the commentary – one can easily see what is happening on the field. Key observations from my point of view are:
    • The strongest feeling one gets is that the TEAM IS NOT HUNGRY. As a collective team they are not in the zone and a lot of the blame lies at the doors of the coach Duncan Fletcher and the captain MSD. Wrong selection (Vinay Kumar for Ashwin or Ojha? – you must be kidding!); none of the batsmen arrived at the wicket with any game plan (this after having played 5 innings against this attack in Australia before the second innings at Perth); MSD has not been talked to by Duncan about his ineffective tactics as a captain; the team was not in the right mindset; no focus on getting singles and rotating the strike and converting ones into twos while batting and saving easy singles while fielding, and so on and so on.
    • It was torture watching Laxman bat (??) in Perth – he seemed to have no clues at all and had no plans to counter the bowling; he looked pathetic. Do I attack? Do I defend? Or play a like a novice which is what he ended up doing. Based on the display, I believe he was the worst batsman on show (this includes all the tailenders). I had read an article in The Hindu as a precursor to the Perth test where they said that Laxman has earned the right to decide when he wants to go and at that time I agreed with it and even went to the extent of referring a lot of my friends who were questioning why Laxman should be retained to that article. But after the test, I cannot envisage Laxman playing for India in any more tests. He just has lost it. Period. It’s time for Rohit to be given half a dozen tests to know if he has it in him to play at that level. Sorry to say but Laxman – good bye. Thanks but no thanks.
    • The phrase – this team can’t bat, can’t bowl and can’t field – is the most apt one and this consistently in 14 innings (4 test s in England and 3 in Aussie so far) is indeed a sordid tale
    • Srinivasan (BCCI head honcho) reminds me of Raj Kapoor in Sangam – he must be the biggest clown in town when he says “we can beat Australia at home”. So hereafter no more overseas tours for India; all tests will be played only in India – is this the edict from BCCI?
    • Dravid is not far behind Laxman – he is trying to get out of the form slump by trying to be a bit aggressive (a la Perth second innings) which goes against the grain and so he struggles; it’s lke there is no wall just the plaster; anyone can penetrate without any resistance.
    • Sehwag – everyone loves his ‘see ball hit ball’; but unfortunately he seems to be hitting without seeing the ball; he is almost in the state when he was dropped before Kumble was brave enough to pick him for the Australian tour and the rest as they say is history. Maybe he needs to be dropped for a few matches again to get him rekindled
    • Virat and Umesh are the only silver linings in the team.

    So what can we do to rectify or start the remediation process? Some short term and some medium/long term measures (these are what came to my mind immediately – I’m sure there are others as well):
    • Replace Laxman with Rohit; Ishant with Ojha and Vinay Kumar with Ashwin for the Adelaide test
    • MSD is gone for the Adelaide test so automatically Saha comes in as the wk and Sehwag takes over captaincy
    • Inform Laxman he has played his last test; thank him for his services; inform Dravid that the next series will be his last irrespective of how he performs if he does not announce his retirement at the end of the current tour
    • Organise away tours for India A (no point in having domestic series); throw in Ishant Sharma into the India A team along with Sehwag (c), Rahane, Rahul Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu, Sreesanth, Harshat Patel, etc.
    • Replace Sehwag with Mukund to partner Gambhir in the next series and continue with Ashwin, Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Zaheer and Aaron as the bowling line up and Dravid/Badrinath (look at how Hayden and Hussey came good for Australia in their 30’s after a brilliant first class career), Kohli, Rohit; keep MSD as the wk; make Gambhir the captian for test matches; dump Duncan and bring Tom Moody as the coach; have Lalchand Rajput as the assistant to Tom Moody focusing on domestic tournaments and identifying talent that is ready to step up to the international scene
    • Make Kumble the Chief Selector and do away with zonal representation; include people like Sandhu, Srinath, Mohinder Amarnath and Laxman/Dravid as the members of the selection panel.
    • IPL is a big thorn in the flesh; come up with innovative ways to ensure test players have more incentives not to participate in IPL and be ready – trained and refreshed without injury

  10. This is not bad advice … can this cricket site respond

  11. hello outsider,

    since you say that Laxman should be dropped and Dravid should be dropped;

    When should the Big pop – Sachin Tendulkar – be dropped; he was not up to the snuff in 4 tests in England not was he at Perth also.

  12. My two cents … the replacement of the oldys has to be gradual … not all at once … so, one or two should go after this game (laxman and dravid). The reason is there are no more tests for 8 months. Changes has to happen now.
    Tendulkar should go at the end of this year … but does anyone have the guts to drop him. For a non-indian, i dont see how this can happen – he has so much support.
    Sachin needs to make the decision himself and retire for the sake of the country.

  13. Pingback: Catalyst for change | i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

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