India lives, to die another day

22 09 2006

Now seriously this title would have been apt for India after their last match against the West Indies in the ongoing DLF Cup at Kuala Lumpur. The way they played their last league match against Australia was simply horrendous. Here’s the tournament roundup:

West Indies lost from a position of strength in the opening match against Australia. They lost their last 9 wickets for just 29 runs and in the process gave away the bonus point to Aussies. They were a bit lucky in their next league match against India as they won it by the D/L method. Then rain came in as a blessing for India as well when their match against Australia was abandoned. Then in a surprise the West Indies beat Australia in the return-league match to storm into the final.

This left India with the option of winning both their last matches to get into the final. They somehow managed to beat Windies by a narrow margin of 16 runs in a low scoring match. They survived by their tenterhooks. Nobody expected India to win that match after they folded up for just 162. But they did the unthinkable, even when Lara was firing with a blazing unfinished 40. Had India lost that match, the tournament would’ve been over for them. But they lived then, only to die today.

India’s performance has been worse than being simply called shoddy. Its like back to the old days of the ‘90s when we used to depend on only one batsman – Tendulkar. In recent times his form has been suspect, so much so to earn the nickname Dropdulkar from me. But his performance in this tournament was more than what I have come to expect from him in recent years. A 141 in the opening game followed by a 65 in the 3rd match looks good but it has been coupled by 2 failures against Australia.

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Now coming to Australia, it seems like India has a mental block against them (despite the fact that we’ve imported our coach from Australia). Aussies play mind-games, this is very well known all over the world. One of these mind-games was a statement by Glenn McGrath that since Tendulkar has got his hundred in the first match he is bound to fail against them. How true! Not once, but actually twice Tendulkar failed against them. This was an Aussie team that it not at its full strength and still they’ve made Indians look like a bunch of street players.

This became India’s last match before the Champions Trophy but the team management has problems galore. Sehwag is nowhere close to even moderately good. Yuvraj needs to get booted out of the team once again. Pathan is looking like a player unable to cope with the rigours of international Cricket. Captain Dravid fires once in a while. Kaif is insecure about his position in the team. What the hell is going on in this team?

And they say experimentation is the buzzword. What experiments? They’ve experimented too much with Pathan, so much so that this young lad has lost his golden touch with the ball and in the process is slowly turning into a batsman who can bowl in bits and pieces. They’ve shunted Sehwag down the batting order and Dravid moves in to open the inning. Kumble finds no place in the team. Sreesanth is dropped for the big tournament. And in this muddle, Dinesh Mongia makes a return andscores a fifty after taking a crucial wicket in the all important match. Where the hell was he for 17 months? – This was a question asked by a TV commentator today.

On a different note, I think I will stop watching India matches live on television. The commercial breaks spoil the entire match. They don’t even get the chance to show the scoreboard or the replays of batsmen dismissed. I’d rather read articles related to the match on Cricinfo.