The unbearable inevitability of defeat could well be the epithet used for this Indian team now playing in Australia. Nothing can be more frustrating and depressing for a team supporter than to get this numbing feeling that a loss is not just a possibility, but a certainty.
The general consensus emerging from experts in close proximity to the team and the unfolding events is that Indian bowling is good for nothing and is incapable of defending any total, however large it may be. Nothing reflects the woes that have befallen this Indian team better than the fact that Ashwin, a wizard in home conditions, lost his place in the team after just two matches. His spinning, whizzing balls, that had a victim written all over them against the South Africans at home, have now a boundary stamped on them. That is what conditions do to a bowler, especially if too much premium is placed on designing wickets to assist your skills.
When in the Mumbai one-dayer, the Indian bowling was flayed by the South Africans on a flat track, coach Ravi Shastri had reprimanded the curator, accusing him of undermining Indian interests. The butchery that the bowlers suffered in that match was in many ways a clear indication that on surfaces where the batsman is the king, Indians are clear paupers.
Shastri, generally heard more than most others, has been surprisingly quiet so far. He can’t shout at the Australian curators, like he did at home, and force them to make spin-friendly tracks. Like it was for the South Africans in India during the Tests, where the message was clear: better deal with what has been offered: the same holds true for the Indians now. The major difference now being that the conditions are not treacherous and in limited overs matches, wickets are designed to be flat to favour the batting sides. We can’t accuse the Australians for having made “treacherous tracks.” Australian tracks even otherwise are wonderful to bat on, better than in most places in the world, and now that they are devoid of steep bounce, they have become even better for stroke-playing.
In all this bowler bashing, I think we are letting our batsmen go scot free. All we have done so far is to celebrate the century-making of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli and heap praise on them. On these tracks, against a second-string Australian pace attack, Indians should have been galloping at a pace much faster than they have done. India has lost all three matches in the middle-overs, where the batsmen have failed to accelerate.
It has been obvious in the first innings of the matches itself, that the Indians had fallen short of the target they should have set for the Australians to achieve. And this should concern Indians more than ripping apart their bowlers all the time.
Hitting centuries and creating records may fetch you a good headline, but it means nothing if these contributions are to a losing cause.