Good, bad and ugly: Indian cricket had it all in 2014
From Rohit Sharma’s record breaking double ton against Sri Lanka, the team’s never-ending overseas woes, to the controversy surrounding BCCI president-in-exile N Srinivasan over IPL 6 spot-fixing scandal, Indian cricket had the good, bad and ugly in equal measure in 2014.
Rohit’s epic innings of 264 against Sri Lanka on the hallowed Eden Gardens turf was a stuff of legends. The innings spoke about how one day cricket has evolved over time. There was a point in time, even 10 years back, when 264 was considered a good enough score in ODIs.
No one could ever imagine that someone would break the 200-run individual barrier in ODIs till
Sachin Tendulkar became first among equals. Then Virender Sehwag bettered it and Rohit also scaled the ‘Mount 200’ peak. But 264 not out was something that few could have ever imagined, though the batsman’s Test form still remains a cause for concern.
The year was also the first time since 1989, when an Indian cricket team’s list didn’t have Sachin Tendulkar’s name in it. Life without Tendulkar actually started in 2014 and it’s been more lows than highs, if the parameter is performance in the Test matches played on foreign soil. It was also the year that probably saw the end of another glorious bunch of Indian cricketers, who had played with distinction over the last decade. Sehwag, arguably the biggest impact player after Tendulkar, probably might not play for India again after being overlooked from the 30-men probables for the 2015 World Cup. Similarly, it looks like the selectors have ‘shut the door’ for good on Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir.
Off the field, it was a series of court cases that saw Srinivasan remaining in exile on directives of Supreme Court.
Yet he managed to wield enough powers to become the first chairman of ICC and India will now enjoy bigger pie of the ICC revenue. The Tamil Nadu strongman is embroiled in a legal tussle with unsanctioned Cricket Association of Bihar secretary Aditya Verma, who is believed to be funded by Srinivasan’s bete noire Lalit Modi. As the New Year dawns, one would watch with intrigue as to who gets to control Indian cricket.
Back to the field, even the exclusion of the likes of Sehwag and Yuvraj didn’t change Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s poor away record as Test captain with India losing series in South Africa, New Zealand and England. India also lost the World T20 finals to Sri Lanka as Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara brought the curtains down on their T20 international career. The tragic part of India’s series defeat in England, was that it happened after recording a memorable win at the ‘Home of Cricket’. It was after 1986, that an Indian team won a Test match at Lord’s as Ishant Sharma bounced the Englishmen out.
Strangely, the momentum was lost in the next Test at Southampton as Ishant was out injured. England duly levelled the series and there was more embarrassment waiting for Dhoni and Co as they lost the next two Test matches at the Old Trafford and the Oval in under three days due to poor technique in adverse conditions.
India’s problem against off-spinners was not one-off and that was proved when Nathan Lyon scalped 12 wickets in India’s 48-run defeat in the first Test of the ongoing series against Australia Down Under.