Agarkar never looked match-fit

Updated on Apr 09, 2004 12:04 AM IST

Indian team looked invincible only last week, but their inconsistency has forced people to believe that this team is as vulnerable as any other one, writes Javagal Srinath.

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PTI | ByJavagal Srinath

Old habits die-hard. The adage seems true when it is about the Indian cricket team. A team that looked invincible only last week, has shown such inconsistency this time that people are now forced to believe that this bunch of players is as vulnerable as any other team.

But it’s nothing new. Similar things have happened in the past and there is no guarantee that it would not happen again in the near future. The very pattern of winning one Test and losing the next one has surely something to do with complacency factor.

Indians were in the right frame of mind after the victory in the one-day series. They looked confident of beating Pakistan in the Test matches too. Once the Indians conquered Pakistan at Multan, I am afraid to say, the self-belief was missing.

An overseas victory means so much to the players that they somehow get overawed by the occasion and get complacent. Such self-satisfaction surely plays a negative role while preparing for the next game.

When the team loses, it gets determined to set the score right in the next outing. As a player, I have experienced it myself. In India’s case, disaster always strikes after a big win.

Keeping in mind the earlier incidents, I did anticipate a little dip in the Indian performance this time.

The defeat in Zimbabwe and the loss in the Melbourne Test were ample evidence for me to believe that the rhythm would be hampered after the comprehensive win in Multan.

How does a team overcome the complacency factor after a big win? Should they avoid celebrating the victory or underplay it until they win the series? The team will have to sit and decide it’s own course of action henceforth.

Rahul Dravid may be blamed in some quarters for his decision to bat first. Frankly, the team fared even worse in the second knock than it did in the first innings at Lahore.

To me, winning the toss and electing to bat was certainly a positive move. More than the Pak bowling performance, it’s the Indian batsmen who fished a bit too much outside the off stump and caused their own downfall. Gul was the only bowler who hit the right line, while Shoaib and Sami were still searching for line and length.

The wicket appeared to be a good track when Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh were batting. A batting side, which has scored 600 and more runs in two consecutive Tests, can only fail because of complacency.

Ajit Agarkar does not appear to be match fit. I fail to understand why players, that, too, injured ones, get into a Test eleven without playing a practice game. I can well understand a player making himself available out of sheer anxiety to make it to the side, but the team management needs to have a proper tool to measure the match fitness of the player. I guess the victory in Multan had overshadowed the selection process.

The Indian bowlers, especially Pathan and Balaji, did well despite their limited experience. On such wickets, a bowler may appear to be bowling well, but there is always something that will stop them from taking wickets.

There is a thin line demarcating the wicket-taking length and the line that only makes it appear that the bowlers are bowling well. I am sure Balaji and Pathan will learn these tricks of trade soon enough. Had Kapil accompanied the team, the great bowler would have sorted out these subtle issues with the youngsters.

Doubting the Indian batsmen’s form would be foolishness. But, questioning their level of preparations will not be an unfair one.

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