A narrow win but what about the superstars?
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A narrow win but what about the superstars?

India?s first ever victory by one wicket in a one-dayer-- in the 6th match of the series against New Zealand?again emphasised the brittle nature of the team.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2003 22:56 IST

India’s first ever victory by one wicket in a one-dayer-- in the 6th match of the series against New Zealand—again emphasised the brittle nature of the team. The team can fall asunder under the most innocuous circumstances.

These were known facts but to do a repeat when the team is supposed to be all psyched up for the World Cup shows the utter lack of preparation on the level of strategy and mind power.

As India go into the last and 7th ODI with the chance to make the series 4-3, and thus go in to the World Cup with three straight wins, there must be various factors weighing on the mind of coach and New Zealander John Wright.

The chief issue is of course the inability of the batters to perform in bouncy pitches which is what will be waiting for them in South Africa.

There is no immediate solution to that. All that can be done is to pray and hope for the best, But the other debilitating factor can be worked upon. And that is the huge number of run-outs when the team is cruising along. In other words, on-the-spot planning and communication is totally absent.

Otherwise India would not have lost five wickets in a hurry after Sehwag’s departure at 182 for 4 and taken the match to the last ball. Two runs to win, three balls to go and Ashish Nehra walking in, is not an ideal situation to be in.

The Sunil Gavaskar theory of converting singles into two runs has to be abandoned totally by the Indians in all matches where the score is 200 or below. In such matches the team has to depend on the boundaries and the safe singles or doubles. The coordination is just not there for risky run-taking.

No signaling, no shouted-out words between runs and in short no good running. This was evident in all matches in the tour. Three run-outs in the middle and lower order is suicidal.

The other factor, the most worrying is the inept show of the superstars during the whole tour where the conditions were similar to what confronts a new entrant into hell. None of them could bat or bowl (of course not counting Srinath).

The six straight defeats that the team suffered was due to this. SouravGanguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid have not been able to score, Anil Kumble has not been able to take wickets (nor has he for some time now) and the team has had to fall back on the sprightly youngsters.

But this in turn has given the youngsters in the team the chance and the confidence to stand up and perform. All the youngsters in the team have matured tremendously during this tour.

Three of them: Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan come back from the tour as the new heavyweights in the team. In the recent past India has not been confronted with such hostile pitches and the young stars have stood the test while the others withered in the trial of fire.

So, less than a month before the World Cup starts, only four players can be counted on to be match-winners and consistent performers for the country.

It will be on Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Mohd Kaif, Srinath and Ashish Nehra that the team will have to look to in South Africa. That is a humbling thought. Tendulkar,Ganguly and Dravid just do not look in enough form to play match-winning innings in a month’s time.

They have slipped out of the groove. Tendulkar who has had enough rest in the last two months seems uncharacteristically out of focus.

This is not to write off the super star batsmen. They have stood the test of time. That is the only hope.

First Published: Jan 11, 2003 22:56 IST