Jan 9, 2012

Virat's Middle Finger: Message for us

I, like any other cricket fan, was very excited for the 'Agneepath Series'. The grand cricket stadiums, be it in Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide, the green grass shying under the sunny sky, the enthusiastic crowd and of course the sheer 'quality' of cricket on display. The mere visualization of these images was very thrilling.

However, two weeks since the first ball of the Boxing Day Test was bowled, we all know the picture has changed dramatically. Aussies have steamrolled the higher-ranked Indian side with utter disdain and a complete whitewash looks pretty much unavoidable. The ease with which this supposed 'weak' Australian side has beaten India in all the forms of the game, is very alarming. So, where does the blame lie? Who is responsible for the massacre Down Under?

Yes, here lies the problem. You can not and you should not blame the Indian bowling. Bowlers were never expected to create havoc at first place. In fact, barring the run riot in the batting paradise called Sydney, Indian bowlers, especially the seamers, have done a decent job on the tour so far. Umesh Yadav looks brilliant, Zaheer is erratic but efficient, Ishant is giving in everything and Ashwin is not the first spinner in history who has failed in Australia. Also, one should not forget that the likes of Clarke, Ponting and Hussey have hit form just when it mattered. And these players have always loved to perform against important teams, on big occasions. Sometimes, you should also acknowledge opposition's strengths rather than just sulking over your weaknesses.

Next up, let's talk about the captain cool. Dhoni, now has lost 6 overseas Tests in a row. A pathetic record for the twice World Cup winning captain, who also helped India top ICC Test rankings. But again, it will be too harsh to hunt his head down for these defeats. Does India have an alternative? Sehwag is too old and unimaginative to be made the Test Captain. Sachin wont walk down the fiery lane. Selectors will not think of giving the mantle to Dravid. The only 'established' young player in the side, Ganbhir, is still trying to establish himself!

Now, the final and the most probable suspects, the batsmen. Yes, Indian batting needs to owe up the responsibility. Bulk of the blame should go to Sehwag, Laxman, Dravid, Gambhir, Dhoni, Kohli and even Sachin for failing to fire individually as well as in unison. Sehwag looks very lethargic and his hand-eye co-ordination has deteriorated. I am almost confident that this is his last tour down under. Gambhir has some serious technical shortcomings, but he deserves praise for digging it out at SCG. Dravid has miraculously created a 'gate' between his bat and the legs. He is also looking very scratchy, unlike his fluent demeanor during the English tour. Laxman is in horrible form, he was lucky to score that fifty at SCG. It is clear, Laxman is well past his prime. Kohli must be learning a few lessons in batting on this tour. While his poor outing is sure to teach him a lesson, Indian prospects are taking a beating in the process. Dhoni hardly looks a test batsman. In fact, his overall batting prowess comes cropper once he steps out of Indian soil. His wicket-keeping has been brilliant on this tour, but he does not deserve a place in the side on the merit of his batting.

And finally, let's talk about the master. Sachin looks the best Indian batsman by a long distance. But it is amazing how the greatest batsman of the world gets affected when he reaches that remarkable milestone. Let's face it, we all have been seeing it! Sachin Tendulkar does get very cautious and tentative as soon as he reaches the late 70s. His eloquence vanishes, boundaries dry up and a thick shell is created all around him. Tendulkar is most vulnerable (in Test cricket) when he plays for time. And he has been doing so throughout this tour. Whether it is for any approaching break (lunch, tea, stumps) or that coveted milestone. Believe it or not, Sachin's 100th 100 has become a huge psychological bogey both for him and the team.

But all said and done, we can not make too many changes in the batting. There are no openers other than Viru and Gambhir. Dravid, even with that 'gate', is the best bet at no. 3. Sachin is Sachin. You may think of scalping VVS' head, but do not forget that he has done too many good things in Australia, and against Australia. Moreover, you can not risk playing two absolute youngsters at no. 5 and 6 (Rohit and Virat). What if they fail? Will you drop them as well? Let's not throw these talented batsmen in fire straightaway. And Dhoni of course will continue to be number 7 till he is the captain of the Test side. So, the only possible, and actually needless, change is bringing in Rohit Sharma in place of Virat Kohli. How does it matter? 

So, a team that has lost 6 overseas test matches in a row, can only afford to make one or at most two changes in the playing XI. This is the biggest problem. We have no option but to silently wait for the inevitable. With his middle finger, Virat, unintentionally, has sent a very lucid message back here in India.


  1. Faadu. You said all what I wanted! Sachin really needs a century to get back to his own self. Sehwag is an idiot. Laxman has given up. Dravid, after his Bradman speech, has gone bonkers, Gambhir is struggling. I just don't get how India had reached number 1 spot in the first place!

  2. We reached No.1 bcoz of likes of Kumble, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Sachin ofc. Dhoni inherited a bed of roses. Couple of roses have already bowed out. Rest are losing their beauty rather quickly. :)

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