Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The Indian team got a taste of reality over the last four days. It was embarassing to watch the match as an Indian fan. So, mid-way through the third day, I changed my mindset - I decided to watch the match as a cricket fan rather than an Indian cricket fan. Oh, it was so much more enjoyable then!

The South African team taught many lessons to a lot of people in India.

Lesson No. 1: While Steyn, Morkel and even Parnell (playing just his 2nd Test) were head and shoulders above the Indian seamers, even Paul Harris showed that he can be considered a better option than India's premier spinner Harbhajan Singh. Though Zaheer and Mishra did put in whole - hearted performances, it just cannot be compared to the South African effort - partly due to luck, but mainly due to skill and perseverance (in case of Harris).

Lesson No. 2: Amla and Kallis collectively scored 426 runs for South Africa in just one innings losing just one wicket between them. India's top 7 managed an aggregate of 410 runs in two attempts losing a total of 14 wickets between them. Here, I am very tempted to quote what Avijit Ghosh wrote in his blog 'Addiction' on Times of India:
"It is important to regularly play Test matches with teams with good bowling attacks. At the moment, only Australia, South Africa and Pakistan have penetrative all-wicket attacks. Playing against teams with ordinary bowlers gives an inflated sense of a batsman’s ability. Dhoni, for instance, is a master of mediocre bowling but is hardly the same batsman against stronger attacks. Closely examine his run of scores and you’ll know what I mean. And he was giving Harris more respect than he deserved."

Lesson No. 3: It does not matter that your coach has resigned just before coming into a very big series. It does not matter that your entire selection panel has been sacked. It does not matter that your cricket board is about to be restructured. What really happens on the 22 yards and the grass around it is what decides who the No. 1 Team in the world is going to be. And yes, amidst all this, they showed that even a selection panel that faced the ignomity of being sacked is better than the Indian selection panel.

Lesson No. 4: This lesson has already been covered by the quote from Avijit Ghosh's blog above. The BCCI needs to learn this lesson, and learn it fast. India needs to stop playing Sri Lanka every now and again. India need to face more of South Africa, Australia and even England in Test cricket. A 100 run loss in an ODI does hurt, but an innings defeat in a Test match at home humiliates. I hope BCCI gets the point and pays more attention to Test cricket.

Lesson No. 5: This is the most obvious one - fielding. No one really expected Indian fielding to match up to South African standards - and it didn't. Even though our fielding was not really street - level, but there is still a lot of scope for improvement.

Lesson No. 6: Perhaps the most important lesson of them all! The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag and Rahul Dravid are still needed to guide the newer players. Their role in the team is perhaps more important than that of Dhoni himself. Everyone is talking about preparing for the transition period that India will have to face. But something that needs to be understood here is that the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid are needed to prepare the younger generation for the transition.

In the first innings, Badrinath lost his wicket soon after Sehwag got out. In the second innings, the writing on the wall became crystal clear once Sachin got out. To use examples of our recent past, Dravid and Sachin were needed to see India to respectability in the recent Bangladesh tour. In the Hyderabad ODI against Australia (better remembered for Sachin's masterly 175), Ravindra Jadeja looked cool as cucumber with Sachin at the other end. But as soon as he got out, Jadeja lost his cool and his wicket going for a suicidal single. There are a lot many more such cases, if only we could open our eyes to them.

The young guns on India all look promising. But they will need the help of their seniors to fulfill their promise. There are no two ways about it.

1 comment:

sushil rajmane said...

You correctly mentioned the need for India to play more Test Matches against SA, England,Australia.
And about the transition phase, i really wanted Badri and Vijay to show some outstanding performances, but as you said they indeed need guidance and support from our senor players like tendulkar, dravid, laxman.