I Just Don’t Understand India’s Batsmen

Somewhere on this earth, a young cricket fan with an intense hatred for Team India holds a collection voodoo dolls in his closet. He brings it out at crucial moments for the team — say, away tours against prestigious teams — and he pokes the fabric with glee when he wants the most effect.

How else to explain the bizarre dip in form from Gambhir, Sehwag, Laxman, No. 6 (be it Yuvraj, Raina, Kohli or — inevitably? — Rohit Sharma) and Tendulkar? During the lunch break today, Dean Jones told an almost incredulous Ravi Shastri that he still believed the Indian line-up could pull it off. Less than an hour later, Dravid, Laxman, Gambhir and Kohli were all back in the pavilion.

Clearly, Jones hadn’t been keeping up with this team. Yes, it’s a great line-up; yes, it’s scored many runs and has much experience. But for the past decade, a prosecutor could easily point to evidence of brittleness — innings when batting collapses meant this line-up couldn’t even last 50 overs (Sydney 2007/8 would be a chilling Exhibit A, umpire errors or no). These guys have crafted great moments, it’s true, but hungry enough oppositions have learned to snake through.

So what ails them? Nobody really knows. Gambhir enjoyed a couple of great years, now he’s hit a dip and looks like he’s in need of his fix at the start of each innings.  Sehwag’s method relies chiefly on confidence and bravura, and as long as the runs are scored, his self-belief becomes self-fulfilling. String enough low scores, however, and soon enough commentators will start talking about “rashness,” a terrible technique, “look at those feet!” Dravid and Tendulkar are the only pillars left, but Dravid’s cracking under the weight and Tendulkar never wins games for India anyhow. Meanwhile, Laxman — so good at soaking pressure and leading counter-charges — well, I really have no idea what’s wrong with Laxman.

The tragedy of Melbourne was that India was really this close to victory. A couple of tailender wickets, or maybe just a few more lucky boundaries in the first innings, and it was theirs to be had. But they need to learn that if none of the Golden 4 can perform, they all need to pitch in (a la R. Ashwin). We’re all getting an early look at what the future holds for India: less genius, more hard graft and modesty. Not unlike, er, Australia.

7 thoughts on “I Just Don’t Understand India’s Batsmen

  1. Golandaaz says:

    In my view the core of India’s problem is the collective impact of SRT, VVS and RD that crafted many wins. England and now MCG is evidence that the 3 aren’t cutting it for India anymore and their time is up. Without the weight of runs these 3 used to put up, the lower middle order is exposed and the opposition is rarely under any pressure of runs on the board; allowing for frequent jail breaks from opposition lower middle order and tailend batsmen

    The template for India’s wins; which was score runs and bat your self into a position where a match cannot be lost; is broken. We need to find a new template now. And I would prefer if the new template has no involvement from these 3.

    I am sick of people finding faults elsewhere. The problem lies in the core of our batting and the 3 greats are past their prime. Unable to dictate games and victims of the system around them; unable to exert any influence on the game at hand beyond putting up just enough scores to keep playing.

    Gambhir is a problem but a secondary one. He will get back in form;given time. Kohli and Rohit need to thrust into primetime. They will not succeed at first…just like VVS and Sachin did not start scoring 100s right off the bat

    • I don’t think so Gol. SRT’s attitude looked really positive in the first innings and I think he may have fared much better if he had some support at the other end in the second innings. Dravid was the only saving grace in the English summer where we got whitewashed. Without Dravid, we would be much worse off — especially overseas. Yes, Dravid failed in the second innings here — but it seems to me it’s more of a mindset issue than anything technical.

      VVS – honestly I don’t know why. It is inexplicable that he is not performing at his best in Test cricket, when that is his only specialty at the moment. I don’t know if they’ll drop him this series, but if he doesn’t do well , questions will be asked and some younger blood (Pujara/Rahane/Rohit) can come in.

      We cannot have 4 or 5 of our batting lineup abjectly fail, when batting is our supposed strength.

      I agree that the overall transition from these Big 3 into a younger middle order should be quicker than later, given that the younger players need to be provided sufficient time and matches at the highest level to get accustomed.

      • but you only reiterate my point. We have won usuall when the 3 have delivered in unison over the course of a series. the problem is this year they have taken turns to shine. Making the case for their retirement that much more difficult.

        this year away from home our average score is 240 odd over the 10 innings in England and Aus. I am curious….what is the threshold before the right questions are asked. How long can we afford to carry VVS, SRT and Dravid in the team when each of them take turns performing and ending up serving to only elongate their own careers with no value to India?

      • Golandaaz says:

        also, you suggest that without Dravid we would have fared much worse in England….what can be worse than 0-4?

  2. Gol,

    Dravid gave the chance for us to make the result better.

    We had other major problems such as losing Zaheer Khan, a completely useless Harbhajan Singh, a tired out and overloaded Praveen and Ishant which had an impact on their performance as the series progressed. Dhoni was equipped with a much weaker attack as opposed to Strauss, which caused a lot of damage.

    • Golandaaz says:

      we have won matches with Agarkar as the strike bowler. The problem sir is not our bowling which was never good enough the issue is the batting with scores of 200 odd in each and every of the last 10 innings away from home. Also Dravid’s 100s have served no other purpose than to further his own career. Its costing us a much needed revamp in the middle order. 0-4 is 0-4 the only way it can look better is if it were 1-3 and Dravid, VVS and SRT failed….

      In the history of the game, no whitewash has been a result of some minor issues or injury or player availablility. It is always been a symptom of something permanently damaged. India’s middle order is permenantly damaged

  3. Maya says:

    Sachin is the most overrated, over-hyped cricketer in this plenet. His inability to win matches for India is a blot on his career.


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