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MSD cries out for space

Indian skipper MS Dhoni lambasts the grueling schedule of the Asia Cup after his side defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets. A report by Subhash Rajta.

cricket Updated: Jun 30, 2008 01:53 IST
Subhash Rajta

It was bound to happen. Someone, somewhere was certain to cry out in protest, given the amount of cricket India have been playing for some time now.

It happened on Saturday, with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni directing his ire at the scheduling of the Asia Cup. "I am not happy with the scheduling of the event. We have played for 36 hours in the last 84 hours, including back-to-back matches. This is really tough, especially when you are playing throughout the year," said Dhoni.

Fair enough, but it was tough to digest that a couple of back-to-back matches stressed the cool and composed captain so much that he decided to lash out. The outburst perhaps had more to do with the fatigue caused by almost non-stop cricket the team has been playing for the past year.

Apart from expressing displeasure over the scheduling, Dhoni attributing the sloppy show on the field, though partially, to tiredness. "One of the reasons for the dropped catches and poor fielding is that the players are really tired. The intensity is missing, but then you just can't help it," he said.

Again, it's hard to believe that a couple of matches in the Asia Cup, even if they are back-to-back, could tire the team and lower the intensity. It has to be the long-term affect of continuous cricket.

One would agree with Dhoni that the players are tired. But then, there are many who would question why the players didn't made such noises during the Indian Premier League, which was far more tiring, given its long span and the mind boggling travelling.

The rotation policy, the team management has stuck to in the tournament so far, could be the way to keep the players relatively fresh and stress free. But it has a flip side - will the side have the courage to drop an in-form player, like they rested Virender Sehwag in the match against Bangladesh?

Apart from player fatigue, the other issue that needs a hard look is the poor turnout at the grounds. One can understand such a scenario if India are playing minnows Hong Kong and UAE. But how can one explain the empty stands in Karachi when Pakistan were in the middle. Even during the India-Pakistan game on Thursday, the stadium had numerous empty seats and the situation was no different on Sunday for Pakistan-Sri Lanka match.

Clearly, interest is on the decline. And there can't be a deadlier recipe for disaster than tired and stressed players and disinterested spectators.