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India team’s young underachievers

No doubt there is talent in abundance in a country whose encouragement for cricket, at one level, is enviable. But does it translate into adequate bench strength? Four matches of this series don't suggest so, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.

cricket Updated: Nov 05, 2009 00:10 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

There was a breath of fresh air in the Indian team when they beat Australia comprehensively in the tri-series Down Under early in 2008. That accomplishment was followed up by another unprecedented success, an ODI series win in Sri Lanka.

Players like Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Virat Kohli, Sreesanth and Manoj Tiwary and even the not-so-young S. Badrinath were part of those squads. What are they doing now?

Quite a few of them don't figure in India's scheme of things these days and even though the team has come up with replacements or reinforcements -as you like it - the results have not been as encouraging. The young guns have not fired and it leaves the door ajar for a few questions.

Kohli cut a sorry figure whenever he came out to bat in the ongoing series and Raina too didn't do much apart from a superb half-century on a batting beauty in Nagpur. Ravindra Jadeja made a decent appearance with the ball and while on the field, but that doesn't mean much as far as India's search for an all-rounder is concerned.

Does this mean India is thin on resources when it comes to Generation Next? "They are talented but chasing runs in ODIs when you are inexperienced is difficult. With the younger guys in, we always thought we are in the game," Ricky Ponting said.

So what are these guys doing, after IPL, endorsements and the other aspects of the good life? Little, possibly. It's a unique case of talent not being translated into performance, which should leave a question mark over the future of the biggest cricketing nation in the world in terms of commerce and economics. "They will learn from their mistakes, and learn with time. They have improved over time… The best way to give someone an opportunity is to make him bat high up the order," MS Dhoni said when asked about the non-performing youngsters in his side.

No doubt there is talent in abundance in a country whose encouragement for cricket, at one level, is enviable. But does it translate into adequate bench strength? Four matches of this series don't suggest so. One can't blame it on inappropriate selection policies because people selected in general have not delivered. As long as they don't do it, questions on what India have after now wouldn't be answered.