Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The dissection

On the face of it, India's loss to SL in the final match of the Indian Oil Cup was purely strategic. The run chase was on the right track till the 35th over. The plan was well made, although a bit tight. It required Dhoni to click and give atleast 30-40 quick runs. That was an absolute must. This is why I called the plan tight. Had we been playing 7 batsmen, it would have been '1 of these 2 had to click'. Not that I am blaming Dravid for going with 6 batsmen. We hardly had anyone worth a crucial 7th place for the finals of a high pressure tournament.

But that's just the problem in yesterday's match. India's biggest problem last season, and by the look of it, in this season so far, has been of consistency. Consider this : Chaminda Vaas is in good nick. What do you expect of such a bowler in good rhythm in last outing ? Be economical, on the dot, take a few wkts if possible. And that's what he delivered. Now, who in the Indian team was in good rhythm as a bowler. Was it Pathan ? Or Bhajji ? Or Nehra ? Or Khan (!) ? Or Kumble ? They all have been good in a match, or two matches, or three. But not consistently throughout. And not only have they not been able to not break through in the other matches, they've been expensive as well. Now that's not good form.

And the same goes for the batsmen. Barring Rahul Dravid, who do you call in good form ? Although all of them came good in atleast one match ! In the ones they failed, they didn't even appear to be trying hard enough. That's inconsistency. When a batsmen is in form, he should make his failures also contribute something to the team cause.

So, the deeper problem is of basics. Remember during WC04 days it was the motto of Indian team management that each key player of the team should be contributing in atleast 2 aspects. It lead to strong decisions like leaving out Laxman over Mongia, making Dravid keep wickets etc. Now compare it with today's scenario. Players are not doing justice to even their 'first talent', leave aside the second contribution. And that's where, I believe, Chappel's biggest challenge lies. Should he make Dhoni focus on his batting aspects, or first he should sort out his 'keeping. Should he make an allrounder out of Pathan or first a good bowler ? Should he ask Yuv, Sehwag to focus more on improving their bowling or first sort out the batting.

It may seem complicated looking at it this way. But I think some of the answers are simple. Get the players to focus more on their prime job (Dhoni's is to 'keep) and the second would, if they have that additional talent, fall in place. If they don't, then anyway Chappel or anyone else cannot build it in them at this level.


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