It’s unfortunate that Team India has forgotten how to add to its silverware collection. Its failure in the Champions Trophy is sad not only because it always did well under home conditions. For the Champions Trophy is a good indicator of the formbook for the frontrunners of the 2007 World Cup and India’s performance is anything but reassuring. The six-wicket defeat to Australia — the second loss in the four-team pool where India boasted just one win (over England) — suggests that the men in blue have yet to learn their lessons since losing the one-day series in the West Indies 4-1. Not even the failure to reach the finals of the tri-series tournament in Malaysia seems to have spurred Rahul Dravid’s men.
The Indians may be an aggressive unit, but that alone doesn’t win matches and they need to lift themselves in crucial games the way the Australians do. Of course, taking a leaf out of the world champions’ book needn’t mean Xeroxing their methods. For instance, as India’s best batsman, Dravid must bat at no. 3 if his potential is to be used to bring stability to the middle order. Instead, the focus appears to be on shuffling the batting order like a pack of cards. Australia rotates its batsmen around because there are enough players Down Under who can competently replace each other at any time. In fact, chairman of the selection committee, Dilip Vengsarkar, was right in saying that the Indian domestic scene ‘lacks talent’. Too many teams participate in the Ranji Trophy, which compromises the proper selection of talent.
No wonder that the professional manner in which Australian cricket is set up gives it such a remarkable edge over other teams in the world today. Well, it still isn’t too late for India to learn.