By Nishad Pai Vaidya
The famed Indian batting is battered and bruised. That it has humiliated on its own turf, that too to against arch-rivals Pakistan, is astonishing as this was one of most feared line-ups in one-day cricket. If the first One-Day International (ODI) against Pakistan at Chennai saw them falter to some brilliant swing bowling, the collapse at Kolkata was due to horrendous batting under pressure. The World Cup holders look a shadow of their dominant past that saw them conquer the world with convincing batting performances.
During the telecast of the Kolkata ODI, the broadcasters had put up a very interesting statistical table. The records of some of India’s batsmen in ODIs in 2012 show that they haven’t done badly individually. What then is the reason for India’s inconsistent performance?
Here are the records of India’s ODI batsmen in 2012:
(Only batsmen included. Irfan Pathan and Ravichandran Ashwin considered due to their batting abilities)
Four main batsmen, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina - average over 40. Looking at those figures one may be lulled into thinking that the batting side is doing well. In this case, the statistics do not tell the whole story. Irfan Pathan and Ravichandran Ashwin – men who play support roles to the frontline batsmen - also boast of decent averages for lower-order batsmen. However, there have been far too many changes in the side. Due to that instability, big scores aren’t coming and the team faltering as a result.
As one of the commentators pointed out during the second ODI against Pakistan, it is difficult to think who can be axed from the side. Perhaps a Sehwag may be a potential candidate given the fact that he averages a paltry 21.70 in 2012, but he did get a decent 30 at Kolkata. There have been calls to axe Gambhir, but he has been India’s best batsman in ODIs in the last 12 months, along with Virat Kohli. He did well during the tri-series in Australia, the Asia Cup and the tour to Sri Lanka.
Yuvraj Singh has returned to the side and it is unfair to judge him on these two performances. He has shown that he is in touch during the T20s and it is only a matter of time before he gets into his groove in the one-dayers.
As Karthik Parimal pointed out in his article, Rohit Sharma may deserve a Test spot, but his recent showing in ODIs doesn’t make a good reading. An average of 12.92 is simply unacceptable for someone who is said to be phenomenally talented.
This table also tells us that there has been a lot of chopping and changing as India haven’t zeroed in on one combination. Promising players such as Manoj Tiwary and Ajinkya Rahane have, more often than not, warmed the benches despite impressing in their isolated opportunities. With two years to go for the next World Cup, it is imperative that India settles on one combination and doesn’t make too many changes.
What the above stats also tell us is that, the batting hasn’t fired as a unit. While there are a few who have good numbers, they haven’t come in a collective cause. That’s what has hurt India.
India haven’t played too many ODIs in the last year and one can say that they have had a mixed record. In the tri-series in Australia, there were a few games where they were fantastic only to disappoint in the others. Then, during the Asia Cup, they lost one game against Bangladesh and couldn’t qualify for the final. The only bright spot was the tour to Sri Lanka – where they sealed the ODI series 4-1. However, two successive defeats against Pakistan should shake them up and usher in the epiphany that all is not well. Something desperately needs to be done.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site's YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_
First Published: January 4, 2013, 9:27 am