Monday, March 7, 2011

Good, not great

Amongst the two teams today, I thought the Irish were a better side.
They acted professional, bowled with discipline and fielded like a top quality international team, proving to the world that their match against England wasn't a fluke.
India on the other hand started really well, lost their way and thanks to Yuvraj Singh ensured that the Irish just crossed 200.
Given that the Bangalore wicket had over 1500 runs in the last two games, 200 looked achievable.
Then Sehwag got out to a really nothing shot and bowled and Gambhir played a shot that he usually plays really well, but mistimed it.
Suddenly we were 9/2.
We eventually achieved the target in the 44th over, thanks to Yuvraj, Sachin, Virat, Dhoni and some big hitting by Yusuf at the end, but that's not the point.
India has played three games in this World Cup so far. Barring the Irish, we haven't bowled anybody else out. The Irish were bowled out in the 45th over of the match when they were 9/2.
Who is to blame for this?
I'll admit that I was part of the Twitter universe that went after Chawla's blood during the Ireland innings. He was short, indisciplined and just gave away far too many singles.
The problem with the Indian
team is that some of the players
don't know their role in the side
But I won't blame him alone.
Harbhajan Singh, who is an attacking bowler by nature, was doing the job of a container. Sure his bowling figures look neat at 9-1-29-0, but isn't his job as the number one spinner in the Indian team to attack the batsmen? Why is Yuvraj, whose job in the side is that of a batsman and a part-time slow bowler getting five wickets? I have nothing against that bowling performance. He bowled beautifully and would dream of packing that wicket and taking it with him wherever he goes.
People like Harbhajan Singh are confidence bowlers. Sunil Gavaskar in his book Idols mentioned that BS Chandrasekhar was a lot like that. Harbhajan's at his best when he's flighting the ball. When he tries giving it less air, he tends to be less effective. We all know that. This World Cup has been indication of that. And this is from the same bowler who bowled beautifully in South Africa when we went there.
The Indian bowling has depended solely on Zaheer and he's bowled his heart out for India. But if you do to Zaheer what we expected of Tendulkar for major part of the 1990s, then we're not going beyond the quarterfinals. Nehra and Ashwin have been doing nothing. I liked what little I saw of Ashwin during the practice game against Australia. I'm not an IPL fan, but I know that he was a major reason why Chennai won the title last year. And he's no muck with the bat either. He has solid technique and he's gutsy. Unfortunately for him, Chawla is playing over him and Chawla, despite what anyone may think, is bowling terribly.
The batting is strong, but we don't have a bowling attack to back it up. It's the same argument that I had in the post I wrote this morning on the Curious case of the Indian fast bowler. We don't have anyone who won't last beyond a year. Funnily this morning, I completely forgot about Ishant and funnily he was another big thing after he got the better of Ricky Ponting in his debut series in Australia. This lack of focus, indiscipline, media attention and the feeling that I'm bigger than the game, is what's been killing Indian cricket. If we're the number 1 test team in the world, why would we draw home and an away series against South Africa? Sure we could have won that series if wasn't for Kallis' heroics, but wasn't it our job to take his wicket? We couldn't at the end, which has always been the tragedy of Indian cricket throughout.
While we may have a good side, we will never become a side that would be called great for a long time, if we continue this trend. 

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