Indian cricket team feasted on weak Sri Lanka, shot themselves in foot vs South Africa | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Indian cricket team feasted on weak Sri Lanka, shot themselves in foot vs South Africa

Successive triumphs over substandard opposition created a false ‘all is well’ feeling in the Indian cricket team, which drifted away from reality. The Cape Town Test vs South Africa cricket team once again highlighted Indian cricket’s traditional weaknesses.

cricket Updated: Jan 11, 2018 09:17 IST
Amrit Mathur
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli ducks a bouncer during the first Test against South Africa cricket team in Cape Town earlier this week.
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli ducks a bouncer during the first Test against South Africa cricket team in Cape Town earlier this week.(REUTERS)

The Indian batting collapsed twice but batsmen alone are not responsible for the Test defeat. The blame lies elsewhere; in bad preparation and flawed decisions taken by others. If an MA student is given nursery books to study then accountability for the result lies with the college management. Also, no deep-sea diver can succeed if he only splashes around in a shallow pool.

If India are understandably crestfallen, and South Africa delighted, there would be smiles in the Sri Lankan dressing room in Colombo. The last six months, they were mauled by India — outplayed, thrashed by big margins and made to look inferior. With India at the receiving end now, losing a game within three days in tough batting conditions, don’t think any Sri Lankan is shedding a tear.

India shot themselves in the foot by feasting repeatedly on a weak Sri Lanka. Successive triumphs over substandard opposition created a false ‘all is well’ feeling, batting averages got bloated and the team drifted away from reality.

The Cape Town Test once again highlighted Indian cricket’s traditional weaknesses. The truth is, despite frequent tours abroad, the Indian team does not travel well and starts poorly. Indian batsmen, despite Test averages touching 50, are still to discover ways to cope with fast bowler-friendly conditions.

Driving through the line and hitting on the up with front foot planted down the track is fine in India. But on pitches overseas this is inviting disaster --- as unsafe as driving against the flow of traffic on a busy highway. Technique guru Sunil Gavaskar, having analysed the problem, made this sharp comment: Without back-foot play, the batsmen will remain on the back-foot!

Virat took the Cape Town blow on the chin, refusing to blame the wicket/ team selection/ lack of preparation and offered no excuses. He, instead, spoke about ‘rectifying mistakes’ and hoped batsmen play with intent and a positive mindset.

Actually, as much as players, the BCCI needs to be on the ball. The men in control, whether professionally hired or nominated by the court, must look to advance Indian cricket. It is great to secure fat commercial deals, sort out free pass allocation and disallow needless travel but these are peripherals, not core issues of running cricket.

A year since the BCCI suffered a surgical strike, Indian cricket is caught in quicksand, stuck with no sign of progress. Rahul Dravid once said the purpose of domestic cricket is to promote quality and develop cricketers who can win matches for India. Sadly, domestic cricket is not aligned to this objective and Ranji is treated in a step-motherly manner.

Similarly, international cricket is often meaningless with matches scheduled to satisfy a broadcaster or used as a lollipop gifted to a country that voted in support in a boardroom battle.

Players have to go out and perform and cope with challenges flung at them. To succeed consistently, they need backend support which takes care of issues of scheduling, rest, workload, financial composition and quality wickets.

Coach Shastri announced the team’s desire to win overseas and captain Kohli has demonstrated he won’t compromise on effort or commitment. The question is: Will BCCI think beyond ‘control’ and look to contribute in this quest for excellence?

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been with the Indian cricket team as manager)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author