Everything is not fine with Team India

I grew up watching cricket. I would watch all of India’s matches ball by ball. Even though, India would be clearly loosing, I would still be optimistic about its win; maybe a batsman becomes the hero by hitting the fastest hundred or a bowler makes a hat-trick. But it rarely happened with India, although similar things did happen with Australia. I always envied Australians for such a brilliant team. In other words, I grew up watching Australians dominating the world cricket and they still continue to do so. And they dominated International Cricket at the time when most of the teams were doing better than what they are doing today.

The ongoing cricket world cup in England shows the deteriorating cricketing standards. I am not talking about rain washing up the complete matches. I am talking about the teams who have been brilliant in the past but have deteriorated over the time and not the teams that joined the test cricket in 21st century like Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who are still in their learning curves. Half of the teams participating in the tournament are struggling with their internal issues so badly that they have become a mere punching bag for a few teams like Australia and New Zealand. In fact Bangladesh and Afghanistan are the only teams that are performing better than expected.

The South African authorities introduced 54% reservation for the players of color in their national team i.e. a total of six non white players including two African black players. Reservation and Competition are mutually exclusive i.e. either you could have reservation or you could compete, you can’t do both. Although, this kind of reservation was always there at domestic level but in 2016 they introduced it in their nation team as well. You could look at the SA’s performance in Champion’s trophy 2017 and World Cup 2019. If the players were good enough, would they need reservation to play for the national team? I don’t think so. If you are playing with six average players, your team would also be average and is obvious to be at the receiving end.

Sri Lanka who produced players like Sanath Jayasurya, Kumar Sangakara, Mahela Jayawardane, M. Muralidharan, C. Vaas etc. etc. has never been able to fill their shoes. A poor team culture has been cited as the underlying reason by the Sri Lankan cricket board for such a predicament. A culture of privileges and entitlements for the senior players in the dressing room, which India also suffered a decade ago.

Pakistan which had always been a side with the strongest bowling attack has now left with only one consistent bowler in the name of Mohammad Amir. In fact they are playing with only two reliable players Babar Azam and M. Amir. Pakistan lost to Afghanistan in a warm up match. Pakistan does not have the necessary ecosystem to sustain good cricket any more. Ever since Sri Lankan team was attacked in Pakistan ten years ago, there is very little cricket in Pakistan. The condition is so bad that they conduct Pakistan Super League (an IPL like tournament for Pakistan) outside Pakistan. They tried to host PSL final in Karachi last year, the city was put on curfew for two days. Terrorism and entertainment don’t go together. Terrorism is eating up that country from the inside like termite. They rely on two players which is why they are called unpredictable team. Also read: Unpredictable Cricket

West Indies, have limited themselves to the T20 cricket. They are all in for the entertainment factor, be it the hard hitting or signature moves of different players. They are in their own fantasy world. When it would be a T20 tournament, they would be the top contender for the trophy. But now, it is not their game. Their ODI ranking is 9 at the moment.

Now coming to the point I am writing this.

India is a country where cricket is considered as religion and players as god; then what is stopping India to dominate International Cricket when the other countries are already struggling?

The problem is not with the players, it is with the selection criteria. India never goes on in a big tournament with the best of the cricketers available at its disposal. I guess you would agree to the fact that unless the best cricketer is injured he should be in the 15 player squad representing team India in World Cup. Wouldn’t you? Now look at our current team. How does Vijay Shankar fit even in the 15 player squad let alone the playing 11? The man debuted in Jan 2019 and has played 8 matches before the world cup his personal best score was/is 46. What did the selectors see in him to deem him eligible for the big tournament? It is not that World Cup was announced a few weeks ago, the selectors did not have enough time to choose the players.   Same goes with Rishabh Pant, he has played 5 one day internationals so far. What happened to the players who debuted after 2015? World Cup is not a tournament to test your new players. Is it?

India’s only bowler who had played more than 60 ODIs and can bowl consistently at 150kmph is sitting outside; Umesh Yadav. Why is it that all other countries value their fast bowlers but India does not? Not only him, there are other more deserving players not selected for the world cup for example Ajinkya Rahane, or Ambati Ryadu or Axar Patel or any other just to name a few. India has three keepers in its fifteen squad. Why?

A player’s glamour quotient and his performance in IPL can’t be a benchmark for his selection in the national team in a different game format. There have been a few players who are in the team because of their IPL connections. Wicket to wicket bowling or hard hitting for a couple of overs might be sufficient for winning a T20 game but is not sufficient to win a 50 overs game.

The other problem with Indian selection has been that they shortlist mediocre players in the name of all rounders. The specialist players are kept out whereas unreliable players are kept in the team, just because they can ball as well as bat. This makes the team strong on paper, however it collapses like a pack of cards on ground. You must have seen or even better you could observe yourself, whenever the Indian top three  batsmen fail, the rest of the team struggles with even a score of 150-200. Same goes with the bowlers, if the two strike bowlers fail, the rest of the bowlers fail to get even a single wicket. India is currently playing with two all rounders in the team, Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya plus Ravindra Jadeja in reserve. They would not perform when they would be needed the most.

This is not just today’s Indian team. It has been the case forever. India has always supported all rounders against specialists. You could choose the time frame of your liking and find a couple of players playing in the team who are/were not reliable and were in the team and more deserving specialist players were benched.

If India has to dominate world cricket, it has to rely on the specialists, be it specialists batsmen or specialists batsmen. If you keep on doing the same thing over and over again you would get the same results over and over again. India has to let go of its all rounder fetish.

In the ongoing world cup too, if India has to win the cup, it needs to change its playing XI. There should be a full time seamer in place of Hardik Pandya i.e. a total of three pacers in the team. And there should be a full time specialist batsmen in place of Vijay Shankar or Rishabh Pant. Two changes!!! Otherwise, don’t get too optimistic about India’s performance. India’s game against NZ was washed, it actually has played only one game with a good team(Aus), others are not in a good state at all. The other good game would be against England. Hope that is not washed. India might get a chance to see its mistakes. I hope Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar get fit by the time knockout games begin.

Thanks for reading!!!

Also Read:

The (in)significant fans

What is India’s number 4 batsman conundrum?

 

25 thoughts on “Everything is not fine with Team India

  1. Abhijit Ray says:

    I agree India should play with three seamers plus Hardik Pandya. Against a team like England that targets our spinners, seamers can stem the flow of runs. Using two spinners we conceded 160 runs in twenty overs. Using two seamers plus Pandya we conceded remaining 140 runs. If we had played Bhuvi in that game, English total would be at least 40 runs less. Even with our slow batting we could reach 300 plus against England in 50 overs. Result would have been different with a third seamer, I think.

    Umesh Yadav is a test bowler. He is inconsistent in death overs. Ajikya Rahane is a great bat, but cannot bowl. I am not sure if he fits in the team. Pant is a great bat plus wicket keeper. Hardik is a good pinch hitter, reasonable bowling and good fielding.

    You may disagree. Don’t bite me. These are my opinion only. In a one billion plus population, one has to pick fifteen players. It is never going to be easy to make every one happy. Selectors are human to.

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    • Anant Chetan says:

      Thank you for the comment. And I don’t bite, may be that’s why the comments on my blogs are not moderated.
      You intentionally or unintentionally gave an answer to the question as to why India will never dominate world cricket like Australia does, by saying”It is never going to be easy to make every one happy. Selectors are human to.” This is the point, selectors don’t need to make anybody happy, they need to select a team which could win and while doing that they will make a lot of people unhappy, which is okay. I am almost done with my next blog which talks about these issues. I would be glad if you look at that.
      Regards,

      Like

        • Anant Chetan says:

          Australia winning 4 out of 5 world cups in last 20 years, and India winning only one that too the one in India. World cup is the biggest cricketing tournament. About rankings in last 20 years, how many years did India retain its Rank 1?

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          • Abhijit Ray says:

            Earlier Indian teams were not balanced. Present team is winning, is it not? Not easy to compare with Australia. Our outlook and culture are different. Remember Greg Chappell saga? We have to create system that suit us and give result.

            Like

            • Anant Chetan says:

              Yes true, Australian culture is different than that of India. We don’t have a culture to be the best, they do. Cricket Australia’s culture review says this and not me. Their culture review highlights two points : 1. Win at all costs 2. Fans are no stake holders in any way(I would write more in detail about this as to how this is affecting India badly).
              India is struggling to replace Shikhar Dhawan. They are literally trying to figure out their playing XI during the world cup, they played with three keepers against bangladesh, why? India is not prepared for a world tournament.

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              • Abhijit Ray says:

                Australia is not in the glory days of Steve Waugh. They have ability to stand up for big shows no doubt. Win at all cost defies the ethics of sports. Many Australian sports people outside cricket also profess. By the way Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, wanted Tendulkar to retire. Indian selectors did not agree. If we bring Australian culture it may not work in India.

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                • Anant Chetan says:

                  True again, win at all costs sidelines the ethics of sports and we don’t want that. But we can not give an excuse of a different culture for not being the best. Especially when we are a country of a billion plus people who willingly play cricket. Either we can address the problem or be content with what we already have. It can’t be both. India has players who could rule world cricket like no one before, if only the selection is fair without biases and so on. I cannot believe that India does not have a batsmen other than Virat Kohli that could play all 50 overs with respectable strike rate. I simply can’t.

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        • darkknight583 says:

          To nobody’s fault, I don’t think their is much glory in being number 1 or 2 or 3 when the rest of number 4-10 number countries are struggling poorly. It’s just like the proverb goes “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. karan gandhi says:

    I’m surprised you have mentioned that India don’t choose their players well… I mean the names you have mentioned, Vijay SHankar, doesn’t matter how many matches he has player before, however he was their on merit. Merit was his performance (with ball, bat & field) and on that position of No.4 which no one has claimed for. Ajinyka Rahane, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Ambati Rayadu (who missed out) and aprt from Rayadu no one else fit that bill. Shankar got the node, because it was believed that before start fo the world cup that pitches there are flat and scores of 500 will be achievable during this cup. and so an insurance in terms of a player who could bowl you a few overs was preferred over a batsman.

    Shankar is in the mould of Pandya, who 3 years back was similar and people mocked him too. Same for Jadeja. You have to give these guys some time, otherwise as you are seeing iN Srilankan circket, it will happen here as well.

    FInally, PANT deserves a chance, even though he is a fledgling, he brings in that X factor and raw power in the death and middle to acclerate, which most of the teams have in middle. Maxwell for Australia, Buttler for England, Haris sohail for Pakistan, Miller for South Africa, grandhome for NZ, Pooran/Hetmeyer for West Indies Fernando/Thisara for Sri Lanka, These guys will often fail but on their day they will single handedly destroy the oppositon. They need a special treatment so that thye can continue their fearless approach.

    I totally disagree with your article. Today INDIA has invested heavily in fast bowlers and that is why we have put together a pace batterey which is ranked best in world. Umesh is out because of its inadequacy to bowl at death. His wayward line, length leads to easy run scoring. Do you remember Shaun Tait, did he had a long career? Injuries apart, his inability to control the pace and line length mis match was a big reason, he was never a front line choice.

    INDIA, is in SEMIS, and anythign can happen in a knock-out, but they should be proud of their performance. This is a team to FEAR!!!!

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    • Anant Chetan says:

      Hi, how did any one decide if Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant or Mayank Agarwal have merit? They did not play enough matches. How can you judge when they have no games? Yes, they deserve chance and may be they are the best, but world cup is simply not the place to launch new players. India plays around 30 ODIs every year, they should first play those. And my friend, Jadeja is still mocked.
      If you don’t agree with me , give me a reason as to why in past twenty years India won only one WC but Australia won four. I would listen to your thoughts.
      You could keep believing that the team is the best and anything can happen in a knock out matche but the truth is somehow Australia manages to win the knockout matches more than often.

      Like

  3. Jay Kachq says:

    Read your answer thouroughly and found that you are not fan of Hardik Pandya and Ridhabh Pant. When it comes to make some quickly run, Hardik Pandya never disappointed, when it comes to blowing though he is a medium pacer but her actually knows how to place field and most of the time he got success while doing that. So I think he is reliable. Talking about Rishabh Pant, he has done far more better than your so called “specialist”. Umesh yadav may be consistent to bowl at 150 or above what about the yorkers, what about the cutters , what about the swing. He can swing only in test not in ODI’s, he is run consuming bowler, India can’t afford it. You can world’s best bowlers like Glen McGrath, Shaun pollock, they done magic with moving the ball not only giving the speed ball, what about the death overa, he can’t reliable in death overs. I am only agree on wrong selection of Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav as they are only IPL player. Have doubts on Lokesh Rahul as well he performs good only in ipl, but when it comes to performing in team India in he performs but not like he performing in the IPL. Apart from that team looks good.

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