Indian fans are steadily losing faith in their high-profile cricketers who have promised greatness but delivered little ahead of the Champions Trophy.
A 4-1 defeat in the West Indies in May and one win in four one-dayers in the recent triangular series in Kuala Lumpur have raised serious questions about whether Rahul Dravid’s Indians are capable of hitting the jackpot this time.
Nothing went right for India in Malaysia, despite innovative training methods, experiments in the batting order and the presence of exciting stroke-makers. Indian players trained with army soldiers in commando fatigues before the start of the Malaysia tournament. But Kuala Lumpur showed that the team required more than just off-field training to taste on-field success.
Australian great Greg Chappell has become synonymous with change ever since he took over as coach last year. He dragged the players out of their ‘comfort zones’ and prepared them for any eventuality, causing unease in some quarters.
The results, however, have yet to match Chappell’s expectations. The batting remains formidable on paper but fragile under pressure. The fielding also leaves a lot to be desired. Dravid was not wrong when he blamed batsmen for the failure to reach the final in Malaysia and demanded a marked improvement for the Champions Trophy at home.
“It’s important for all of us to be counted consistently,” he said. “It includes me. I did not have a very good tournament and I should be the first one to put my hand up and say I should have done a lot better.”
Yet India need not lose heart because this time they will be playing on the sub-continent where their batsmen have the reputation of being “flat-track bullies”.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar believes Dravid’s team will still be a force to reckon with in their own backyard. “If the triangular series had been played in India and not Malaysia, the story would have been slightly different,” he said.
“After watching India go down in the West Indies and win just one game in Malaysia, it is quite clear that this Indian batting is not quite the same as on flat pitches. “The conclusion that can be drawn after the West Indies and Malaysia is that Indian batsmen do not quite rock when the pitches are not flat.”
Batting holds the key to India’s fortunes. The successful return of Sachin Tendulkar from a long lay-off due to shoulder injury augurs well. Tendulkar, the world’s leading scorer in One-day Internationals with 14,370 runs and 40 centuries, has already warned his opponents that his appetite has not yet been satiated.
“Cricket has been my life. Let’s be honest — I am living a dream. Every time I go out on the field, there is enthusiasm,” Tendulkar said after his comeback century against the West Indies in Malaysia.
There is no dearth of stroke-makers with Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Mongia all capable of dominating bowling in home conditions.Impressive at home, India have not lost a one-day series here for more than a year. They thrashed Sri Lanka 6-1, England 5-1 and drew 2-2 with South Africa.
India’s weakness lies in bowling, especially in the ‘death’ overs when even the experienced are under pressure. The seamers are inconsistent. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been living up to expectation, but he alone cannot carry the burden. Dravid needs his batsmen to click and ease the bowlers’ task.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 and is filed under General.
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