Failure Story- from Lords to Perth
It all started to happen when India toured England and faced the English batters on July 21 at one of the world’s famous venue Lords, which hosted the historic 2000th test match in the history of test cricket. India surrendered and faced a defeat in that match and then in that series due to injuries and some of out of form players. From then on India had and has been facing humiliating defeats when played abroad. Now it’s seven in a row after their defeat in Perth and with one test in this series to be played in Adelaide which will most probably favor the hosts, Australia. There has been lots of talk on the batting order collapse, Captain is being blamed, IPL has been showcased as a reason and Selection committee is also blamed. So in this article let’s see all these factors and the team constituents which was the major reason for the set back
Batting Order Collapse:
During the 1990s and 2000s, India was a nation which usually doesn’t win lots of test series abroad. Thanks to the former skipper, Sourav Gangully for breaking the barriers and leading the team to a lot of series victories abroad. The Indian bowling attack has always been vulnerable in foreign conditions, but even then there were not a lot of series defeats and series whitewashes which is due to the resistance that was shown by the Indian batting line up. Sachin, Dravid, Laxman and the skipper Gangully himself was the formidable batting line up which India heavily relied on. In the recent past, the vulnerable bowling remained the same but the batting also has become vulnerable hence there was no resistance which lead to humiliating defeats. Also there were some quality all-rounders right from kapil till Irfan who were capable of batting through the innings. But in the past 2 years, India badly misses the service of quality all-rounders. Adding to this, the vacant no.6 slot and Dhoni has been a problem. Dhoni, who is yet to prove that he is a test material, has been a failure in test cricket so far. Dhoni fails to build partnership with the lower order batsmen. So the oppositions were able to wrap up the Indian lower order with ease.
There were lots of criticism on Dhoni for his defensive field set when the opposition batsman gets into his form and when the opposition lower order comes to bat. But one has to accept that, Indian bowlers don’t tend to attack the opposition batsmen with their bounce and also they don’t beat the batsmen with their pace. So reducing their scoring options is the only way to contain the opposition batsmen when they are in song. So blaming Dhoni for his field set is not too appropriate. But Dhoni can be blamed for not setting an example. A captain should lead from the front just like Clarke did against South Africa hitting a brilliant 151 when the team was in a great trouble. But Dhoni failed to do such heroics. Had he played one such innings certainly that would increase the morale in the dressing room. He also fell as a prey when the team was in trouble. His batting in test cricket is a major concern and India would like to watch Dhoni play well in test cricket as well.
A lot has been talked about Indian Premier League (IPL).IPL has been porttraited as a reason for the disastrous performance of the Indian players. This IPL has been major force in players losing their fitness. Players prefer to play IPL at the cost of International games. Lot of example can be quoted for this. Neither BCCI nor IPL can be blamed for this. It’s only the players who were responsible for this. Whenever a player feels like he needs rest, he should skip his IPL and regain his fitness so that he won’t have to take rest during their international fixtures. But this has never happened so far. Imagine the scenario; Had Zaheer played throughout the England tour the result could have been different. So, yes, players of IPL should be blamed for the Indian failure, but not the IPL committee.
I don’t think blaming the selection committee head by Srikanth is valid. Barring the selection of Vinay Kumar and Mithun ahead of Irfan, they have selected the best squad available. When the batting order collapsed, the selection committee couldn’t do anything. No one would have imagined,
1) Laxman will be a failure in Australian soil considering his past records in Australia
2) The defensive technique of the WALL will be breached in Australia
3) The most feared batsman, Sehwag will fail in most of the innings.
Apart from Sachin, who showed glimpses of his top form, the batting line up failed as a unit. So I don’t find any point in blaming the Selection committee. Had Varun Aaron was fit there would have been no questions as neither Vinay nor Mithun would be selected.
Team Elements Leading to the Disaster:
Batting has been a letdown for the past 2 years. Each and every player was responsible for this. There were some individual contributions but there were no real partnerships .As for as openers are concerned, there were 5 combinations used in these 7 tests which tell you about the lack of consistency and player prone to injuries. Gambhir and Sehwag are the usual openers. Gambhir has been on and off due to injuries. But whenever he played, he was not the same when he was at the top of his game during the tenure of mid 2008 and 2009. He started to chase the ball that is going away from the body and lost his wicket in most of the wickets. And the other opener is the demolishing Sehwag. Usually bowlers used to fear to bowl at Sehwag but unfortunately now Sehwag is afraid of the bowlers. The man, who usually prefers to attack, is now playing in defensive mode allowing the bowlers to attack him. These two have been influential in India reaching the top of the table in test cricket but now has been a major reason for losing its no 1 spot and facing consecutive defeats. The fire that openers had in the past is missing these days. After the openers the man who walks in is Rahul Dravid. This man was the leading run scorer in test cricket in 2011. He was the only Indian player who scored century against England in the England series. He has been in great touch in the last year. But this year in Australia series, he didn’t look completely comfortable. He was on and off colors. He was bowled 5 times in the last 6 innings which is a major concern for India as well as Dravid. The famous defensive wall has been breached now and the bowlers were able to get him bowled consistently. So Dravid would be conscious about his technique and would like to make sure that he doesn’t get bowled yet another time. The next man would be the little master, Sachin. Sachin didn’t look in great touch in England but in the current Australia series he was in great form and flamboyant. Obviously he is the only Indian batsman against whom the Australian bowlers would have feared. The search of the elusive 100th ton has put him under immense pressure which made him fell short of the 100th ton. The no.5 spot is now occupied by Laxman. The tormentor of Australian bowlers is getting tormented in Australia. He has been out of form even against England. But everyone felt it was just one series and its matter of time for him to reach his top form. But his poor run in Australia have raised a lot of questions about his place in the playing XI. With the talented Rohit in bench, it is most unlikely for Laxman to retain his slot in the playing XI. After his retirement, India would be hoping for Rohit to step up to his shoes. As all three stalwarts aging, India has the responsibility of finding proper replacement for these players (Rohit, Pujara and Yuvraj are most likely to replace these there) Then the vacant no.6 slot has seen a lot of players to come and go. The likes of Raina, Yuvraj and Virat have played in this slot. In the England tour, Raina and Yuvraj have been used at no.6 slot. Due to poor display by Raina and injury of Yuvraj talented young Virat got a chance in the Australian soil. He didn’t look like making it, in the first test. But in the third test, he showed a lot of maturity and application which is really good to watch and would be a great plus point for India. Then comes the skipper, Dhoni. As I said earlier, Dhoni is yet to prove himself as a test material. He is a great talent when it comes to limited overs cricket, but as far as test cricket is concerned he has never been a threat to the opposition. And he hardly carries the responsibility of building partnerships with the lower order batsmen. The lower order has comprised of various players. Barring Ashwin, who played some brilliant and vital knocks none of the player has showed resistance. The runs scored by the tails of England and Australia were far better and far ahead when compared to the runs scored by Indian tail.
In the last 14 innings played abroad India reached a score of 300 only once, which explains the form that Indian batsmen are in.
The vulnerable Indian bowling again seemed a lot vulnerable. The bowling attack in England without the services of Zaheer Khan has seemed a lot more fragile than it would usually be. They failed to produce wicket taking delivers at regular intervals which has been greatly disappointing. In England, India used Praveen, Ishanth, RP Singh, Sreesanth, H. Singh and Mishra. All these bowlers never threatened the English batters. They failed to hit the right length consistently and thereby letting the English batsmen put a huge total on the board. Once the English put on a huge score, Indian batters crumbled and surrendered merely. But in this Australian tour, with the presence of Zaheer in the mix, the bowling seemed a lot more effective when compared to the bowling display in England. Apart from the second test, when Indian bowlers let the Australian skipper score a massive triple century, the bowling was pretty decent. Barring the performance of Ishanth, the Indian bowlers were at their best in the current series. Ishanth has been lacking consistency which happens to be the problem with him. So for the failure in England series bowling was equally responsible for the failure as batting. But in Australian series, the failure of the batters was the major reason for the humiliating defeat.
In the current Australian series, none of the Indian had scored a ton.Even the out of form Ponting, Hussey were able to get runs under their belt, but on the other hand the in-form sachin and Dravid are unable to convert the starts that they get. The fragile and susceptible Indian batters should step up to the plate and should make sure they don’t repeat what happened in England. And they should find a way to stop the losing streak of 7 consecutive tests played abroad by winning or atleast by ending the match in a draw in the next match to be played at Adelaide. But with the current form, pressure and mental advantage the chances of India avoiding a whitewash is most unlikely. But nothing can be predicted. If the senior players play their natural game, a miracle is well in the cards. Let’s hope Laxman gets another chance and let’s hope that he answers all the questions raised against him with a stylish and wonderful innings.
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