By Denzil Fernandes
Daijiworld Media Network
Jan 7: “We will beat them in Perth” said Indian skipper albeit seriously immediately after his Indian cricket team had been thoroughly thrashed by an innings and 68 runs in the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground by Australia! What a mockery of a statement or is it just a case of abject sarcasm?
Anna Hazare during his campaign against corruption said that nothing really changes in India. Whether he had Team India’s performances also in mind is not known. But with ‘Amchi India’ Team turning out to be a flop unit especially when playing abroad, each and every Indian is heartbroken and shocked at the show put up by Dhoni and company in Australia. Anna may as well target the Indian cricketers in his next mission to improve India’s performance abroad!
While one thought that India’s show in England last year was an ‘one off’ happening, the disgusting display in the first two Tests against Australia seems to be following the same path. Before the Test series began, Australia too were in an unpredictable situation last year playing well at one time and suddenly crashing to defeats. Their class acts in Sri Lanka (Galle), in South Africa (Johannesburg) and at home in Melbourne were great. But at the same time, they crashed in South Africa (Cape Town) and also to New Zealand in Hobart astonishingly after coming so close to win. But right now Australia are well and over the top as far as their cricket is concerned.
Over the last month or so, the kangaroos have come back with new found vigour and spring. The spring, of course, has come from a new battery of young pace bowlers who are all vying for places in the team. With plenty of hard work and planning, the Aussies look set to re-claim their top position in Test cricket sooner than later.
On the other hand, the Indians have made it a habit of losing all their Tests especially when playing abroad. Of late, they have now lost six consecutive Tests away from home - four to England and now two to Australia.
Australia hammered India with a splendid win in Sydney by an innings and 68 runs which also happens to be their tenth big win by an innings margin. This was after their emphatic win in Melbourne in the first Test. Very interestingly, India have lost 40 Tests by an innings margin so far. The tourists are still trying to find their way with the first two Tests already lost and with another big pacy encounter set to take place in Perth in the third Test. To cap it all, team India captain M.S.Dhoni is already saying that India will win the next Test at Perth.
Perth is generally known to be a pace bowler’s paradise and the Australians are said to be packing their team with at least 3 to 4 speedsters who will surely rattle the Indians no end. With no meaningful performance, critics are already predicting a 4-0 washout for the Indians. Same score like when they toured England last year. What a way to start the New Year!
There will be plenty of post match explanation coming from the team management including the captain. This is nothing but routine exercise which every Indian is now accustomed to. But the bottomline is that the Indians are simply a classic case of ‘paper tigers’. Barring a couple of batsmen, there is no meat in the batting and the consistency level in the team at a dismal low point.
In comparison, Dhoni’s counterpart Michael Clarke has shown immense maturity in his captaincy and decision making. Leading from the front, Clarke hammered a fabulous and unbeaten 329 runs and put his side right ahead in Sydney. And with great relish and selflessness he declared his team’s innings when he had the opportunity to have a chance to beat the world record for the highest individual score in Test cricket.
Apart from his batting display, Clarke also rolled his arm with good effect and took the prize wicket of India’s top run getter Sachin Tendulkar when he was sailing along nicely at the score of 80 runs and depriving the “Little Master” of scoring his 100th century at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Clarke was rightly named the man of the match in the second Test for his all round display. Supporting Clarke were two Aussie greats Ponting and Hussey who contributed with useful century knocks. Unfortunately, our greats were scoring in double digits!
The Indian team is now equipped with all the first class facilities needed for a successful tour unlike the teams of the past who toured abroad. In fact, some of the players even go in advance to practice and acclimatise to the host country in preparation for the trip. But, sadly in the end, the display in the Tests by our cricketers has been painful and pathetic to say the least.
With the series now beyond India’s grasp, Team India should plan to bring in those who have not yet got a chance to play so far on the tour. Rohit Sharma will surely get his due opportunity after such a long and patient wait. Likewise, Ishant Sharma should now be rested and the other pace bowlers given a chance. Ashwin has been a fine performer in the two Tests played so far. But with nothing at stake, Ojha should also be considered. One is not sure if Sehwag is batting in the Tests or in the Indian Premier League (IPL) ? It will do a lot of good if Rahane also is given a look in. Laxman too should make way for other youngsters in the side.
By all accounts, it is safe to assume that the Indians will return empty handed with no Test match won. All in a sudden, India skipper M.S.Dhoni has become a clueless captain after being known as Captain Cool earlier.
The body language of the Indians has taken a beating with such a shoddy display especially from India’s seasoned cricketers. The need of the hour is to forget the results in the next two Tests and give a chance for those who have not yet been tried and tested. Dhoni can then always say in the post match talk with the reporters that India was trying new players even if they do not win the remaining Tests.
Once the Test series ends, it will be ‘adieu’ for India’s veterans Laxman, Dravid, Zaheer and Tendulkar who may not be touring Australia again in any case.
One expected these players to end their career on a high with a series win in Australia. However, this will not happen now which will be a great disappointment to them especially.
What one hoped would be a tight and exciting Test series against the Australians has petered out to be a one way contest. Indian cricket has surely taken a nosedive as far as their reputation is concerned. Only a stronger show in Perth and Brisbane can bring back those slim hopes of a recovery to all those patriots who believe in Indian cricket.
No one wants a New Year bash like the one in the Sydney Test!