ODI series loss? Blame it on fresh legs!
The losses have a strange effect. Atul Sondhi analyses how it brings about inexperience to the fore.india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 14:38 IST
When the going is smooth, youth is the future, and fresh and young legs an asset on the field.
And when the going gets rough, inexperience is the excuse doled out. The absence is felt - of Laxman, of Kumble, of Sachin, and of all people, Sourav!
Can we really blame the team's performance on inexperience?
Certainly, Raina, Dhoni and Pathan were not more experienced against Lanka, South Africa, Pak and England, than they're now. Commonsense dictates that they played 'lesser' matches than when they came up to face Windies in their own den.
If inexperience is indeed the problem, then Dravid as skipper is certainly much less experienced than Sourav, and Chappell must go to make way for some more experienced coach. It must also be an irony that when two of the most experienced players performed, India lost more matches, if not as many, than when the raw ones came up with some superlative show.
As the following table shows, under Chappell only 50+ scores of Yuvraj and Dravid have been decisive while knocks from Sehwag and Kaif have not had as much impact. This is not to belittle their innings, especially two tremendous nineties from Sehwag in the present series. But to show how hollow the argument of inexperience is in the context of the series.
Big scores of the experienced four
On the other hand, India's record has been tremendous when Dhoni and Raina have fired with 50+ scores. Pathan is primarily a bowler, while at times being an important run-getter.
Big scores of Pathan, Dhoni and Raina
Batting wise, the team was not as inexperienced as it is made out to be, the problem was in the placement.
Playing five bowlers means India would always be one batsman short and in Tendulkar's absence, the other opener would have always been a pinch hitter or a makeshift batsman.
The second opener and one-down position eventually turned out to be big problem in the context of the series. Raina, Pathan and Dhoni - so successful in more favourable conditions, were found wanting at the top order in more testing environments.
India were losing their first two wickets too early and that proved to be the downside of their performance. For first two wickets, there were just two half centuries partnerships. On an average, India were losing their second wicket even before 50 runs were on board. That proved critical in the end.
Partnerships Average for first and second wickets
Pacing that went haywire
Pacing the innings was a big problem for the team and it was more than evident in the final two matches at Port of Spain. While a nervous India were not willing to call the shots in the power-play (first 20 overs) in the 4th ODI, they did not know what had hit them in the final 20 overs of the fifth match.
India after first 20 overs in fourth ODI
In fact, in the final ODI, at one stage India were 173 for five wickets after 33rd over, the same score which West Indies had reached in 40 overs, albeit with one wicket less. But they simply squandered the advantage of seven overs.
Innings Comparison in 5th ODI
|41-50 overs||82-2||255-6||39-3||236(48 Overs)|
Was series a step backward?
One may be inclined to call this series a step backward but that will only be a backward thought.
If at all, this series will only help India plug the holes which were not visible when the team was having it too easy. In the same way as Australia learnt so much from lost Ashes.
A settled opening pair, team's best player (Dravid) at number three with occasional use of Irfan and Dhoni, and seven batsmen-four bowler combination will go a long way in helping India address their newly discovered woes.
Players like Raina must be persisted with, and given more chances. They are the finishers in the making. And if the pitches for ODIs are any indication, finishing touches will be the most critical when the teams go for glory in the World Cup 2007.