Will Team India overcome inconsistency?
Let’s face it, the Indian teams inconsistency overseas is now a regular sight. The ongoing tour of Australia, though a fierce battle has had India on the losing end. As a reminder, Cricket is a game which comprises of bowling, fielding and batting instead of just the latter. Lets head back to 2007 when the Indian team was captained by the legendary Rahul Dravid. That also happened to be the year where India was out performed badly by underdogs and pushed out of the world cup earlier than anyone could possibly expect. That was a year when the Indian team’s inability to face the short ball was exploited the most. Most teams knew their weakness and hit them where it hurt the most. It seems like India haven’t learned their lesson from their recent history. The only difference now though is an extremely average bowling attack and a much improved batting line up. The success that the Indian team earns in the subcontinent has seemed to blind them from reality time and again.
As very rightfully addressed by former India Captain and CAB President, Sourav Ganguly, India winning in conditions where the pitches cater to spin with a line of spinners shouldn’t quite be considered as major wins. They remain in the backyard. The strengths are known. However, it is the weaknesses that need to be addressed.
There somehow still seems to be a space for Zaheer Khan in the scheme of things had he not retired. The lack of a genuine pacer in the team has cost us dearly in the current scheme of things. Apart from the newcomer, Birender Sran, there isn’t really anyone who could be called a newbie. Ishant Sharma has been and played in Australia since the tour in 2007 which should make him quite the spearhead. Umesh Yadav too was amongst the playing eleven since 2011 which doesn’t make him much of a new comer either. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar on the other hand has turned out to be the surprise package. He was never known for pace. However, the ability to swing the ball along with variation seems to have gone for a toss. This brings one back to the ever so green discussion which began early in the 1990’s: ‘Why Cant India produce a fast bowler’. The third match though was a bit of a ripper. Nail biting could be the phrase to describe it as the Indian bowlers did add an element of suspense to their game. However, as the third match concluded at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, to everyone’s disappoint, India has already lost the series, 3-0 with two matches still left to be played. The embarrassment could be predicted at a point when India’s spearhead bowler coming back from injury, Mohammad Shami had to be sent back on account of injury again. It is since then that the Indian bowlers have failed to find rhythm alltogether.
Though there have been a number of positives with the Indian batting the bowlers have terribly let down. On one hand as the the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane amongst others put their quality on display, on the other, series debutant Birender Sran, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and others have failed to find their line and length. On the Aussie front Captain Smith and George Bailey have looked in sublime form. Shaun Marsh too found some form with the bat earlier today. However the man who stole the match remained the flamboyant Glenn Maxwell with his match winning 96.
As far as individual performances are concerned, Rohit Sharma looked almost unbeatable in the first two games with back to back centuries. Though he missed out in the third game, Virat Kohli took over scoring his ton after a couple of consistant performances leading the Indian batting. Ajinkya Rahane too has looked promising with the limited time he has spent on the crease. As for the bowlers, though debutant Birender Singh took three wickets in the first game, he never really looked in control of his bowling. He struggled to find his form. The wickets were more lucky than real hard work. The others didn’t quite seem like it was the 2nd and 3rd time they were playing on Australian soil. There is no doubt in the fact that India have put in a lot of hard work in their fight against Australia.
The third ODI remains a nail biter and the fourth, though a disappointment was definitely a positive fight back. The Australians too haven’t displayed their best bowling efforts. They too have conceded scores above 300 on 3 occasions which the batsman have had to chase down. Though one may always argue that their regulars in Pattinson, Cummins and Johnson are missing, they too haven’t been able to bowl to potential. However, if we are to just take the 4th ODI into account, batting too has been a major disappointment. Senior players such as Rohit and Virat have been consistent with their form. Ajinkya Rahane too has showed support in the middle order and Shikhar has finally found his form. However, the match did display India’s weakness in handling a situation in crisis though victory was only whiskers away. The game was a rare example of how one should bat and one should not bat during a big chase in the fifty over format.
The final ODI though was the real surprise. No one really knew why the hero of the nation, that night: Manish Pandey was dropped from the ODI side after the first game. However, in a dramatic chase which was started by Rohit and Shikhar saw India find its way home for the first time in the series with Manish Pandey finishing the job with his sensational 104. Though India won the game, one shouldn’t let go of the bowling performance within the very game which was not quite impressive and their inability to defend throughout the series. However, the fans seemed to forget and move on towards the T20 series which remains of crucial importance ahead of the world t20 to be played later this year.
India, did manage to keep up the good form which lead to victory in the first T20 match. Dhoni too found himself amongst the runs with some good hits following his crucial cameo in the 5th ODI earlier. To everyone’s surprise, the bowling lead by veteran Ashish Nehra spoke about vintage discipline which helped India bag the game. Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin played their regular game.
Though the real surprise on the occassion remained you Bumrah who’s wickets and economy were more than commendable. As India walked into the second T20, the middle order didn’t need to contribute as such as the top 3 have been in immense form. Though this is a positive, the Yuvraj fans have a lot to complain about. The bowling though still remains a matter of concern and could only be assessed after the three match series comes to a close.