India’s capitulation Down Under not only portrays a hopeless bowling unit, but also presents a bleak picture of the future of Indian cricket. So far, four youngsters, Gurkeerat Mann, Rishi Dhawan, Manish Pandey and Barinder Sran, have been bloodied into the side but none of them have been impressive.
Sran, though, began on a brilliant note in Perth with three wickets, but couldn’t sustain it for long. The other three are batsmen, two of whom can rotate their arms over. While a benefit of the doubt could be given to Pandey, for he walked in to bat at the end of the innings in the second ODI, Mann and Dhawan had enough overs at their disposal at Canberra, the second match of their ODI career.
Both succumbed to pressure and played irresponsible shots to put India in deep trouble. Mann and Dhawan were India’s last recognised batting pair and they were expected to take the match till the end. Mann slogged out to deep midwicket while Dhawan lofted to sweeper cover.
Mann has been a proven contender on the domestic circuit and has it in him to carry his bat through. Even Rahul Dravid praised his batting and his mental toughness after he won India ‘A’ close contests against Australia ‘A’ and Bangladesh ‘A’. At Canberra though, he failed to live up to the expectation.
In the 2000s, under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly, youngsters such as Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif and Zaheer Khan took to the international circuit like fish to water and changed the complexion of the side. Zaheer took seven wickets in his first three ODIs, while Yuvraj scored 143 runs in the four games he played in Kenya. The script wasn’t different in case of Kaif either, doing his bit at middle order.
The current lot, however, doesn’t seem to be at par. Dhawan, though has an alibi in his bowling; an economy rate of 5.7 in the two ODIs is impressive, considering the senior bowlers were going over 6.5 an over. But having proved his batting prowess for Himachal on the domestic circuit, Dhawan’s meagre returns with the bat cannot be overlooked. Dhawan, Mann and Pandey together have played just 31 balls in four ODIs and could score only as many runs.
It may be a little too early for critical analysis, after all Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma too had average starts to their careers, but a batsman’s approach will provide you with an insight to his character. Mann and Dhawan, though, have failed to put up a matured show. It wasn’t that India needed 100 or more runs to win, it was just a matter of 70-odd runs and the situation demanded only a run-a-ball approach. At Canberra, the youngsters could not do that.