You can’t afford a single slip up in tournaments such as the Champions Trophy. Right from match one, you have to be spot on. India didn’t lose a match after the loss to Pakistan and yet they are out.
The tournament is far from over though, what with Australia taking on traditional rivals England in the first semifinal at the Centurion. The Aussies should go into the game with an advantage but the way they went about chasing the low target set by Pakistan, should boost England’s chances. The key for the Australians will be how Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey go, especially as they have lost Michael Clarke to an injury.
This was India’s problem too. It never helps when you lose key players before a tournament, more so a major one. That said, Yuvraj Singh’s injury was most unfortunate and is something no one can control.
What can be controlled is Ishant Sharma’s workload. He may be playing a lot but it is still important for him to get in a lot more overs. Most of the training time is taken up by gym work, which adds strength but you have to include a lot of sprinting as well to ensure that the rhythm is right. The challenge is to get the balance of cricketing skills, strength and cardiovascular training. The skills part is, naturally, most important and it is also necessary to realize that each person is made differently.
Which is why it is paramount that one understands the body quickly. Ishant is a young man but he would do well to understand what works best for him and apply that to his bowling and training. He’s also a thinking bowler and with the right guidance, he should soon be firing again.
Perhaps, he could have been tried with the new ball but in a short tournament such as this and after you have lost the first game, you don’t want to experiment. Also, the team combination is what decides who gets the new ball. When Praveen Kumar comes in for RP Singh, you have to give him the new ball as he relies on swing.
The heartening part of the campaign has been Ashish Nehra’s fine return. With Amit Mishra too doing a good job, there have been some positives too. Even young Virat Kohli’s innings, even if against a depleted attack, is a good sign.
What is not a good sign is the differential treatment all concerned have been giving to the pitches in South Africa. But despite Sangakkara and Strauss speaking out openly against the pitches, I haven’t seen any sort of reaction, not even from the media.
The pitch for the New Zealand-England game was dangerous and not a word against it from the powers that be. Anyway, as far as the Indian team is concerned, the two major tournaments in the year haven’t gone their way. But, as always, looking ahead is the way to go and there is a lot of good cricket coming up.