By Devarchit Varma
The most successful and competitive of all T20 leagues around the world, played over two months, is played in India. Yet one is left wondering if the Indian Premier League (IPL) is benefiting the overseas players more than the Indians after India’s failure to make the semifinals of the 2012 World T20.
The die-hard Indian supporter will spring in defense of the Indian team by saying that it had won four of the five matches in Sri Lanka. In the end analysis, the intervention of rain the game against Australia was probably decisive in the team’s untimely exit. Champion teams don’t seek refuge under a blanket of excuses. The fact is India did not make the semi-finals and that’s what will be seen in the record book, and that’s what will count in the ICC rankings – not the rain. Results count, reasons don’t.
Unless the national selectors and the team think-tank take painful decisions and address critical weakness that have been lingering for a while, none of the problems are going to vanish. If anything, it will only worsen.
Problems at top of the order
Nobody in the team needs to tell the world that it has problems. The selections and tactical moves clearly speak for itself. That there is an unsettled look to the team is evident from the fact that we have a major problem at the very top of the batting line-up. When India were scaling new peaks in international cricket not so long ago, the solid foundation provided by Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir was a key factor in India’s success story. Both Sehwag and Gambhir have been struggling for a while. In fact, Sehwag was dropped, causing much heartburn within the team – evident from Sehwag missing the practice sessions. Sometimes, the suggested cure can turn out to be worse than the ailment. And that seemed the case with the promotion of Irfan Pathan to open the innings with Gambhir.
Bowlers continue to disappoint
The Indian attack continues to be a disappointment. If we look at Australia, Pakistan, South Africa or England they have a rich arsenal that can destroy the best of batsmen on their day. Though Sri Lanka does not have Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, they have the most feared overs-limit bowler in world cricket in Lasith Malinga.
With Zaheer Khan a shadow of his former self, the Indian attack does not inspire much confidence. Harbhajan Singh had one good game, but he quickly showed why it was hasty of critics to think that he had regained his lost magic. With the possible exception of Ravichandran Ashwin, none of the Indian bowlers can say they are a certainty in the playing eleven – leave alone being world class.
The Krishnamachari Srikkanth-chaired selection committee which picked the Indian team for the World T20 has to cop some of the blame for the team’s failure. Zaheer could have been preserved for the Tests and ODIs and instead his place could have gone to Umesh Yadav, Praveen Kumar or Ishant Sharma.
How can a captain hide so many poor fielders?
Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Ashwin are three men who don’t look the part by today’s international fielding standards. And when juxtaposed with a poor bowling attack, the captain is bound to have a huge challenge on the field.
Unless the national selectors show guts to drop seniors who continue to disappoint, very little can be done to mend Indian cricket. And in giving undue immunity to the failing seniors, the selectors are crushing the consistently performing juniors, who are the future of Indian cricket. A new selection committee under Sandeep Patil is in place. Will the new panel take the much-needed tough measures and inject young blood that will help India regain lost glory?
(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or play cricket. An ardent Test cricket fan, he often goes alone to see his favourite players in action)