Indian cricket is in the middle of a crisis. The consensus was that the return to home conditions would help purge memories of the disastrous outings in England and Australia, but the last few weeks suggest that even at home, India aren't the formidable force they once used to
It's time for introspection, not knee-jerk reaction.
Yes, the team did not perform well, but I have seen very little constructive criticism about how to arrest the slide. It's crucial that the team works out how to get back to winning ways. The good teams that I have been a part of identified the core group that would take the team forward. The group was taken into confidence by the selectors and team management when it came to planning and strategy. They were entrusted with responsibilities, which meant that while there was a captain, there were other leaders within the group.
To say that I was surprised and confused by the axing of Zaheer and Yuvraj for the final Test will be an understatement.
If the vision is that Zak should play in South Africa next year, it is important to communicate to him that he is still very much in the scheme of things.
Equally baffling is Yuvi's omission. If he was identified as an integral part of the group, what kind of message are we sending out by dropping him after three games? Have we paused to think what it will do to his confidence? Or to the confidence of the person who replaces him? When Rahane or Jadeja make their Test debut in Nagpur, they will feel the pressure to perform instantaneously or face the axe. That is hardly the ideal scenario.
Yuvi has been around for more than a decade and ought to have been given the full series to prove his mettle.
Back your men
It's important to back the players and give them confidence. Performance must be the overriding criterion, but an atmosphere must be created which is conducive for optimum performance.
If the core group is disturbed every third game, you will lose the plot and trigger a sense of panic and insecurity. It can affect even the most talented and experienced players, so you can imagine what it will do to youngsters.
The immediate priority, of course, is to win in Nagpur. I remember two years back, we went to Nagpur for the final Test against New Zealand, not having done so well in the first two games. Gary Kirsten sat with the core group and emphasised on the importance of the Test, of what was going wrong and how we could turn things around.
We all took the responsibility upon ourselves, and came out playing aggressive, attacking cricket, showing great body language and purpose to wrap up things on the fourth day.
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The writer is a former India player
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