An average of 17.00 in six Tests since the tour of England highlights VVS Laxman's dramatic, career-threatening slump © Getty Images
An average of 17.00 in six Tests since the tour of England highlights VVS Laxman’s dramatic, career-threatening slump © Getty Images

 

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

 

The litany of India’s overseas woes has been unending since the 2011 tour of England. The happenings on Day One at the Sydney Cricket Ground are have just added another chapter in the sorry tale of Indian cricket.

 

The first innings debacle at Sydney was just another confirmation of India’s frailties against quality seam bowling – something so painfully and telling proved by the English seamers. And the stats are quite damning.

 

Since the Lord’s Test against England in July 2011, India have managed to cross the 300 run barrier only once away from home which highlights the consistent inability of the Indian battling line-up to post challenging totals. Worse, there have been two many collapses.

 

The below report card of India’s top order batsmen, since the first Test against England last year, makes painful read:

 

Player*

T

 

Runs

 

Avg

 

100s

50s

 

Highest

Rahul Dravid

6

544

60.44

3

1

146*

Sachin Tendulkar

6

419

38.09

0

3

91

MS Dhoni

6

306

34.00

0

3

77

VVS Laxman

6

187

17.00

0

2

56

Virender Sehwag

4

145

20.71

0

1

67

Gautam Gambhir

5

118

13.11

0

0

38

Suresh Raina

4

105

13.12

0

1

78

Yuvraj Singh

1

70

35.00

0

1

62

Abhinav Mukund

2

64

16.00

0

0

49

Virat Kohli

2

34

11.33

0

0

23

 

*Does not include night-watchmen and includes the first innings of the ongoing Sydney Test against Australia.

 

The fact that just one batsman averages of 50 highlight India’s vulnerability. The huge gap in the averages of the first and the second player on the list indicates India’s inability to post the runs on the board. Consistency has been an issue and it has been a collective failure of the entire batting unit on a number of occasions.

 

In England, India depended heavily on Dravid who looked comfortable as the others fell like nine-pins around him. Tendulkar is next on the list, but his average of 38.09 isn’t what one would expect from a player of his stature. He is the only batsman who looks comfortable against the quality Australia pace attack and one can hope of Tendulkar coming up with something special. He didn’t look in bad form in England but moments of indiscretion cost him his wicket on number of occasions.

 

VVS Laxman’s shocking numbers!

 

The most shocking numbers are that of Laxman. On the current tour to Australia, he hasn’t touched the double figure mark yet and is struggling to replicate his famous exploits against the same opposition. In fact, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has done a lot better than Laxman, grinding it out in the middle.

 

Sehwag and Gambhir need to get back into top gear if India are to lift their game. Sehwag looked good in the first innings at Melbourne and he just needs to carry on and convert the starts. On the other hand, Gambhir is clearly struggling. The grit and fight in his technique has been substituted by unwanted tentativeness.

 

It is clear that the fast bowlers are troubling the Indian batsmen big time. James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan did the trick during the English summer. The Australian pack of James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle has picked a leaf out of the books of their arch rivals and has produced quite a few fantastic spells. As a result, the Indian batsmen have been nicking too many deliveries and are getting caught behind the wicket abundantly.

 

Here is an analysis of India’s dismissals (since the start of the England tour)

 

Test match

Wickets lost
to seamers*

No. of batsmen
caught in the
arc behind**

vs England at Lord’s

11

5

vs England at Tent Bridge

14

9

vs England at Edgbaston

11

7

vs England at The Oval

7

4

vs Australia at Melbourne

14

7

vs Australia at Sydney***

6

4

 

*only includes the seven specialist batsmen and not night-watchmen.

 

Count for both the innings.

 

**includes dismissals at gully.

 

***only first innings.

 

Death Trap – Arc Behind The Wickets

 

When fast bowlers snarl most of the top order batsmen in both innings (that too cheaply), it just enunciates the sorry state of affairs. Most of these batsmen are getting out caught behind the wicket, which is something one wouldn’t expect from players of such quality. It points at the tentative mindset while playing shots outside the off-stump. The fact that such a phenomenon has been recurring for quite sometime says that they haven’t been able to rectify the shortcoming.

 

During the Sourav Ganguly era, India began shedding the tag of poor travelers and defied stereotypes to become a very competitive unit abroad. If one thought that England was an aberration, the implosions at Melbourne and Sydney came as painful body blows.

 

India is dangerously drifting towards regaining their old tag: “Tigers at home and lambs away.”

 

(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)