Cricket is a religion in India. You win matches and you are placed on pedestal, you lose one and you are thrown to rags. The transition from glory to gloom defies the speed of light. It was just last Monday that men in blue conquered the Champions Trophy and just a week later they are bleeding red. Victory and defeat are part and parcel of the game, and we should not expect any team to win all the matches. But if a team loses by 161 runs, a thorough overhaul is but eminent What could possibly have gone wrong just in weeks’ time?
Having watched every single ball of yesterday’s match, I can tell you; the only time when an Indian fan could cheer was during the toss. What followed thereafter were humiliation, agony, dejection and defeat. Our bowling looked no better than a club level cricket; bowlers were all over the place. With a field jam-packed on on-side, bowlers were straying onto pads. When Tharanga was on 95, any team is expected to exploit the nervous nineties syndrome and make batsman toil for every single run. but instead Indian bowler chose to give a hit-me delivery onto pads. Bowlers didn’t back the fielding. We did defended 129 in rain curtailed 20 over match in Champions Trophy Final, but if you remember the 18th over of that match; Ishant Sharma looked as helpless then as yesterday. But only this time, batsman were in no mood to throw away their wickets, yes Srilankan batsman!!
What amazed me most, was our sloppy fielding. In Champions Trophy, every one hailed this young and dynamic fielding side. They were undoubtedly the best fielding units then. But yesterday, they failed to convert half chances, successfully converted full chances into half. They missed catches, gave boundaries, missed run-out and what not. Catches win matches only if you grab those. A sense of complacency seems to have crept into the team and they are not giving their 100%.
Many would like to believe that absence of Dhoni has been hurting India. Once he returns at the helm, everything would be hunky dory. Surely, Kohli is too conventional to be a captain. He is afraid to innovate and improvise and is too aggressive to keep his nerves in critical moments. But, let’s not make him the scapegoat. Even in the match against WI, our batting under Dhoni’s captaincy was no better.
I have always believed that this young batting lineup has been an albatross around the team’s neck. In Champions trophy, Indian middle order was not tested much, thanks to Shikhar Dhawan. And when it was tested in the finals, whole lineup fell like a house of cards. Because we were winning, we had luxury to neglect our follies. With victory eluding us now, questions will be raised. We didn’t test our bench strength at all, during the champions trophy. This is why, we are finding it difficult to get the right replacements.
I would not like to read much into the last two matches and would see it just as two bad outings. But we need to get back to basics to move forward. Win or lose, don’t let down a billion fans. Put up a valiant fight. As an Indian cricket fan, we live in the present. One win and everything else would be history!!
Its NOW or NEVER!!