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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014
Asia Cup: Too many mistakes spoil India's show
Anand Sachar , Hindustan Times
Mirpur, March 04, 2014
First Published: 00:14 IST(4/3/2014)
Last Updated: 00:16 IST(4/3/2014)

Any Indian hopes of a smooth ride in the Asia Cup were dashed within a week of their arrival in Bangladesh.

South Africa has never been conquered, and the hosts utilised the conditions better in New Zealand. The Asia Cup was meant to be the soothing balm with familiar conditions and easier opposition.

That assumption seemed on track for a joyous end after stand-in skipper, Virat Kohli, slammed a century in a steep but successful chase against Bangladesh. However, India have not been able to rectify their flaws and have shown little inclination to do that.

The subsequent defeats to Sri Lanka and Pakistan have exposed gaping holes, and there can't be any excuse for the dismal show.

Weak areas
Lousy death bowling and brittle middle-order batting apart, the standard of fielding has dropped at a pace inversely proportional to the rate at which traffic crawls in Dhaka.

On Sunday, with R Ashwin bowling round the wicket and using the carrom ball generously, it should not have been hard for the wicketkeeper to judge the ball. Not if it is Dinesh Karthik. Sohaib Maqsood stepped out and was beaten down the leg by Ashwin, but so was Karthik. Maqsood added 16 more runs. With the game finishing with just two balls to go, it highlighted how crucial the fumble was.

Fielding blunders
The team had also missed chances like it was trendy to do so - four catches and a stumping - against Sri Lanka. Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan collided to let the ball slip, after Mohammad Shami and Ambati Rayudu bumped into each other against Bangladesh, although that catch was held. Kushal Perera was dropped on seven, and later on 36 by Ravindra Jadeja. He scored 64 in another last over defeat for India.

Against Sri Lanka too, it was Karthik who gave the opposition the most precious gift. Again, a stumping was missed and Kumar Sangakkara went from 30 to 103. To deepen the wound, Dhawan dropped a dolly from Thisara Perera at mid-off, with one to win and Sri Lanka having only two wickets in hand.   

The habit of dropping catches began in New Zealand, and errors on the field intensified here.

"We are making mistakes regularly, which we need to correct because they are costing us in international cricket. If we make three or four crucial errors in each game, it's quite costly in the end. We must play smartly," explained Kohli, after the loss to Pakistan.

The resistance to give the reserves a game too is baffling. Various members of the squad have been reduced to tourists for over four months. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra almost defended a mediocre Indian total against Pakistan after he was finally asked to come off the bench.

The frailty of the batting line-up demanded the inclusion of Cheteshwar Pujara in the eleven and the pace pains called for giving Ishwar Pandey a chance. Pandey was the leading wickettaker of the 2012-13 Ranji season but did not get a game in New Zealand either with Dhoni claiming he is still a work in progress.

An important year lies ahead for Indian cricket. And it is time for Duncan Fletcher, Trevor Penney and Joe Dawes to emerge from the shadows and justify their job.


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