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Amidst a sea of controversies, unanswered questions and doubts over the future, the Indian team is set to start their second leg of the England tour. The five-match One-Day International (ODI) series presents India a chance to put behind the disappointment of the Test series, and play for their pride. But with the off-field matters taking prominence than that on-field, will India really be able to play like the reigning world champions? Devarchit Varma writes…
One pertinent question that will be bothering an average Indian fan at the moment will be to find the correct answer: Which tour of England has been worse for India: the ongoing tour of 2014 or the disaster of 2011. After all, it is a real tough one. While in 2011 the Indian cricket and its legendary stars were humiliated in a manner which was never imagined, the one in 2014 proved that India can still afford to get embarrassed, having not learned anything from the mistakes and past experiences.
The Test series in England has been one of the worst for Indian cricket. The list of things that went wrong is unending — lack of runs by opening pair, lack of runs by the middle-order, lack of runs by lower-middle order, poor application by batsmen in mostly. With the ball, there have been just a few impactful performances amid thousands of deliveries peppered on the batsman’s pads or way outside the off-stump.
This is not all. Ravindra Jadeja ran into a heated argument with James Anderson and MS Dhoni went overboard with his comments in criticising the International Cricket Council (ICC). Both players got away scot-free, but in the end it will not be an exaggeration to say India spent time on unnecessary things and also ended up firing Anderson. There was no stopping Burnley Express. Lest we forget, the fielding touched a new low and India dropped more than what they could hold. In bargain, they lost respect.
Unfortunately, this was not all. To add more to the misery, The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chipped in with its contribution. Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney became easy scapegoats and in came the game of musical chairs: Who is the boss? If the question lasts for few more days then India will really be able to match their arch-rivals Pakistan, wherein the game of musical chair for chairmanship of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is a perpetual issue.
But the question remains unsolved: who is really the boss? MS Dhoni? Head coach Duncan Fletcher? Or, the known voice in the circles of cricket, Ravi Shastri, the Team Director? At the moment, Indian cricket has three bosses, but not one in the public eye who clearly has the onus to the take the national team ahead. Last we forget, the ICC World Cup 2015 is only five months away.
Also making rounds these days in media is speculations over batting star Virat Kohli and Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma. On certain days the media confirms that the two are getting married; the next day it is quite the contrary. One day it’s reported that BCCI, like a grumpy Bollywood movie villain, has allowed them to be together, but the other day the story gets a spicy twist that a certain manager of Indian team is not happy with the relationship.
The world seems hardly fair enough to a young couple, who is trying to figure out if they can travel the distance. Also, the person in question is about a young talented batsman who is destined for greatness, who is supposed to work on his game in tough times, but at present his mind is grappling with issues that are not related to his batting. The pressure built by the media, especially about his relationship, is not doing any good to Kohli.
The history is replete with examples of champion individuals and teams and the aura that surrounds them, and also the effort they put in to get favourable results. England had blossomed few seasons ago because everything they did was to ensure they win. Australia has been able to get back on the feet because they have made all efforts to ensure they arrest the slide. Now think, what surrounds India? All one can find is controversies, unanswered questions, self-doubting, inability and lack of focus. What is India doing to set everything right?
After the first ODI at Bristol being washed out, a team studded with young talent is set to take a rejuvenated England in second ODI at Cardiff on August 27. The likes of Sanju Samson and Karn Sharma need guidance, but with all three bosses pointing fingers at each other, it can be said that Indian cricket is heading nowhere. Nothing can be set right if there is no goal and there is lack of focus. Defeat in the ODI series could spark sweeping changes; it could as well end Fletcher’s stay. Can India win amid all this? It would actually be surprising if they do.
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)
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