Time To Address Age Old Issues




India didn’t have a chance to look at their weaknesses while they reigned at the top of the Test rankings. However a thrashing at the hands of England and losing their top spot in the process ensured that all the problems of the squad rule the headlines of your morning newspaper. Yes, India finally lost a series after 12 successful campaigns and we probably shouldn’t be too harsh on Dhoni’s boys. But this bubble of problems was always about to burst and it only needed a couple of bad performances to come to the forefront.

Cricket India: Time to address age old issues

Cricket India: Time to address age old issues

The main cause of India’s struggle in England is their inability to pick 20 wickets against a quality opposition and if your strike bowler breaks down in the first session of a series, things don’t get any comforting. This isn’t the first time Zaheer Khan has got injured in the midst of a hi-profile series and it is a big letdown to the team and fans if he continues to be available for selection without full fitness. Harbhajan Singh is way past his prime and he hardly looks the bowler who took 32 wickets in a 3 Test series again the mighty Australians. He has become defensive in approach, and while this strategy may work for him in the shortest format of the game, you need to pick up wickets in Test cricket and be ready to toss the ball up to the batsmen. India, known as the land of spinners, surprisingly do not have a world class spinner that can step into Harbhajan’s shoes right away. While Mishra is more suited to the shorter formats, Ojha doesn’t have the variety to trouble batsmen of high caliber and Ashwin has a long way to go to become a Test bowler.

The batsmen haven’t scored 300 in the six innings so far and hadn’t crossed Alastair Cook’s score in either innings at Edgbaston and this certainly is a cause of worry for a team that boasted of the world’s best batting lineup before flying into England. Sehwag was unavailable due to injury for the first two tests and it was only Dravid who seemed like scoring against the swing and pace of the English bowlers. Sachin showed glimpses of brilliance but the rest seem like fishes out of water in bowler friendly conditions. Raina scored a century in the practice game but has been a sitting duck against the short ball. Gambhir suffered a freak injury in the second test while Laxman can’t keep giving away his wicket to the pull shot. Dhoni restored some pride by battling out with two half centuries at Edgbaston while Sehwag’s return was a you-blink-and-you-miss-it sort of return.

Raina wouldn’t have been a part of the squad if Pujara hadn’t injured himself playing in the IPL, a format that he isn’t suited to playing either ways while an experienced Badrinath found himself dropped for the Tests in West Indies after a poor show in the ODI’s. Yuvraj injured his finger while trying to fend a bouncer at Trent Bridge and this clearly showcases India’s problems against the short ball. Dhoni, might in all probability replace Raina with Kohli in the fourth test but Kohli’s problems with the short ball were also exposed by Rampaul and Co. in the Caribbean. It probably is time for Rohit Sharma to step up to the Test grade!

Dhoni has always been the captain with the Midas touch and pulling out tricks out of his hat with brave decisions but his captaincy of late has been logic defying. With England in tatters in the second innings at Lords and at 120/8 in the first innings at Trent Bridge, he employed a long-on and deep midwicket rather than getting the field in and sustain the pressure on England. The inability to finish the tail has always been a problem haunting the Indians and this time, England made sure they paid for it. Dravid has been the most reliable batsman in the series so far but he has also been unusually slow in the slip cordon and has dropped more catches than anybody else. Perhaps age is catching upon him and with slowing reflexes, it probably is time to change the personnel manning the slips.

India’s rise in the World rankings was a steady rise but with the series loss against England and a grueling series against Australia to come, it faces a freefall descent!! The champion teams are separated from the rest by not how soon they go up the rankings but how long they remain at the top. Dhoni’s boys have all the potential to grab back the top slot but they probably just needed a rude awakening to address some age old issues!

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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