Asian crisis: Virat Kohli-led India need series with Pakistan | Opinion
The 3-0 drubbing of Sri Lanka at the hands of Virat Kohli’s India sends out a message that barring one country, the subcontinent may not stoke fear anymore.india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 17, 2017 17:55 IST
There couldn’t have been a more apt Independence Day gift for India than the first clean sweep in an away Test series. This was also the first time a subcontinent team was blanked at home by a neighbour in a series of three or more Tests. That part, despite India’s obvious joy, is slightly worrying.
While credit must be given to Virat Kohli’s team for breaching Sri Lanka’s defences in 2015 before bulldozing them this time, it’s also an indicator of the slow death of Asian rivalry and invincibility. Pakistan can’t host a Test tour, Bangladesh --- despite their limited-overs success --- are not out of Test infancy, while Sri Lanka look scarily depleted and clueless after the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan.
That leaves India as the undisputed subcontinent masters. Beat them at home and no team would be faulted for feeling on top of the world. India too wouldn’t mind the extra bit of attention England or Australia may devote to them. But what happens to the balance of world cricket?
At the turn of the century and even some years later, the subcontinent had its own way of sowing doubts in the minds of touring teams. Win in Lahore and the visitors would get a fitting reply in Karachi. If the touring seamers got movement at Eden Gardens, Chepauk shocked their batsmen with sharp turn. And by the time a tour of Sri Lanka arrived, many teams simply gave up. There was no respite from the subcontinent’s miseries even if one tour’s challenge was negated.
That’s why Ricky Ponting’s Australia is considered one of the best ever to tour the subcontinent, after beating Sri Lanka 3-0 and India 2-1 in 2004. This drubbing of Sri Lanka at the hands of ‘good friends’ India sends out a message that barring one country, the subcontinent may not stoke fear anymore. Zimbabwe have already given considerable shape to that fear by winning the ODI series in Sri Lanka in July before giving them a run for their money in the solitary Test.
That is why we need Pakistan to host tours as soon as possible. The ICC has tried to balance the Asian power struggle by pitting India and Pakistan often in the Future Tours Programme (FTP). According to the FTP, Pakistan were scheduled to host India in December, 2015 (three months after India beat Sri Lanka 2-1 away) and tour them right after the ODI series against Australia this year.
Had that happened, Kohli’s India would have been in for stiffer competition. Instead, an out-of-depth Sri Lanka will fill in for them in November.
Playing Pakistan of course needs government permission. But it won’t be a bad idea given the level of cricket produced when the two teams meet in ICC events. If not tour Pakistan, India could at least play them at the UAE, Pakistan’s adopted home. That could still lend some perspective to India’s successful run in Tests where they have to tour Australia, England and South Africa once in three years or so. Otherwise we may be consigned to watching more ill-matched Asian rivalry.
First Published: Aug 15, 2017 09:31 IST