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Phew! A nightmare series ends

Another loss this time by six wickets, and Indian batsmen were seen rushing back to the pavilion as if they had a flight to catch.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2003 20:28 IST

The seventh and last match of a dreadful series for India ended with the right notes: Another loss this time by six wickets, and Indian batsmen were seen rushing back to the pavilion as if they had a flight to catch.

Oh, of course they did. And now to hurry back home, tuck into some spicy food and sleep it off hoping for a new dawn.

In fact that is all that can be done after a series in which India lost 2-0 in the Tests and 5-2 in the seven match ODI National Bank series to a team which has a lesser ranking. It is a different matter that the team was `trapped’ in newly laid pitches, grassy and so much of bounce, the pitches can be hired out for use as trampolines.

Such was the nature of the pitch that if India had won the toss and elected to bat in the 7 matches, it would have been a reversal of roles. Stephen Fleming acknowledged it when he put India to bat in the 5th match, just to keep some interest alive in the dead series, and promptly lost.

Ganguly can satisfy himself with such thoughts as he flies back into Bombay with a team that needs a desperate infusion of adrenalin injections, confidence-boosting tablets and of course some magic wands as gifts before they pack their “coffins” for the World Cup after a two-weeks rest.

The statistics from the ODI series are shocking. Sachin Tendulkar’s average from three matches: 0.66, bottom of the table. It is the first time, I think Tendulkar occupies that bottom slot in the batting averages after a one-day series in which S.S. Das who played one match scored 30 . Not that the other averages look very rosy. All the big stars failed miserably to hold the fort while being ambushed. The young stars did their bit of heroism but how much can they do?

In the process, India has given to New Zealand great hopes for a Super Six berth if not anything above that. Darryl Tuffey (12 wickets) and Andre Adams (14 wickets) were quite ordinary bowlers before India went there. Now they have gained so much of confidence that in South Africa they will have to be treated with much respect by any team.

A team that comes back from the tour with the millionaire super stars suitably humbled is not an encouraging sight. Now even Sachin Tendulkar’s technique—till now the perfect batsman — is being questioned.

According to Sunil Gavaskar, who should know, both Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are putting their left foot more forward than they should with the result that the swinging ball is able to take the edge and go to slips. Tendulkar today went for a cover drive with the foot a bit forward and bat face opened and gave a nick to slips.

In any case it is too late in the day for such lessons to be taught to exponents of the drive. Earlier on in the series Gavaskar was seen on TV giving Dravid a few tips. Apparently that has not helped either.

Javagal Srinath with 18 wickets (highest wicket-taker) in the ODIs was the most improved bowler and for the first time in his career was at peace with himself and enjoyed himself thoroughly. He has also developed a sense of humour. When he walked back to the pavilion at 0 not out, after Nehra
hit the winning runs in the previous match, he waved the bat to the audience as if he had scored a ton. He is obviously getting ready for a wonderful swam song that will be remembered for long.

If Srinath had taken a return catch in the last match off Scot Styris the fate of the match would have been different. Srinath said that he did not have to do any experiments while bowling and just do the line and length stuff and let the pitch do the rest.

India’s opening Srinath-Zaheer Khan bowling pair will be a formidable one during the World Cup. Taking a cue from Australia, , the Indian selectors might do well to announce the name of two or three players as possible cover for injured players. It is important since Dinesh Mongia and Sanjay Bangar (3 matches, 12 overs,0 wickets on a green track) might have to be left behind.

Though rules don’t permit any changes, apart from injuries, there is always something called allergy to “fast moving spherical objects”. No doctor can trace the root of that one.

There is a two-week rest before the team sets out again as if their one year travels and exertions were not enough. Only good thing is that there is very little expectation weighing them down. That is when they perform best.

First Published: Jan 14, 2003 20:28 IST