India frittered away a great start|
Krishnamachari Srikkanth - 21 October 2001
They say seven days is a long time in politics. It is an even longer
time in cricket. Ask the Indian cricket team.
Last Friday (October 12) we all witnessed what we thought was a mundane
massacre of the Kenyans at Bloemfontein. At that stage, everyone, myself
included, was talking about whether it was right to throw the
inexperienced Kenyans before the mighty South Africans and Indians. Now,
exactly a week later, the upcoming encounter at Paarl between India and
Kenya next Wednesday (October 24) has turned into a virtual semi-final!
The Indians, I feel, will have to take a lot of flak for the way in
which they have brought this unthinkable situation upon themselves.
Against Kenya, they took the win for granted even as they stepped on the
field and paid the price. And yesterday (October 19) against the South
Africans they frittered away the extraordinary start that Sachin
Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had provided.
The Indian performance at Buffalo Park in East London was again
pathetic. The fast bowlers were wayward after South Africa elected to
bat and it was no surprise to see Herschelle Gibbs lay into them with
the utmost glee.
Javagal Srinath, from whatever I have seen of him in South Africa until
now, seems to be on the wane. Ajit Agarkar also was erratic on the day.
I have noticed that the young Mumbaikar, who is rated highly by his
captain, has a tendency to lose his way when the team needs him the
The blazing start provided by Gibbs made a South African total of 300-
plus seem well on cards. It was then the spinners led by Harbhajan Singh
who pulled things back. Yuvraj Singh also bowled a decent spell but just
when India needed to tighten the screws, the faster men came back on and
threw it all away. Surprisingly, Sachin was not given a single over. The
South Africans are not the greatest players of spin bowling and I felt
the little champion should have been tried.
After the passing shower during the interval between innings, it was the
turn of Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar to rain boundaries. Ganguly
has looked to attack from the start of his innings, stepping out and
hitting the South African quicks into the stands repeatedly in the first
fifteen overs. The amazing success that the Indian skipper has had every
time he has looked to improvise at the batting crease, is a glorious
tribute to his gifts and his cricketing brain.
Sachin also played a few exquisite shots and was dominating the bowlers
when he made the error that saw him bowled by Kallis. Once he departed,
the momentum was lost.
The Rahul Dravid-Ganguly partnership that followed after Shiv Sunder
Dasí abrupt dismissal, in my opinion, helped South Africa regain the
initiative. The duo could only add 48 runs in 12.2 overs. The run-rate
might still have been a healthy 5.3 runs when Ganguly was dismissed but
remember it was around 6.5 an over when Sachin left. I felt this fall in
the run-rate had a big role to play in the Indian skipper's eventual
The rest of the batting line-up simply lost the plot. At a time when
sensible batting was necessary, they began to throw their bats at the
ball and play unpardonable shots. In the end, India lost despite their
top three - Sachin, Ganguly and Dravid - scoring 193 runs between them.
The fact that the other eight could only contribute a measly 37 tells a
sorry tale indeed.
Without doubt, our younger batsmen will have to learn quickly to think
on their feet and play innings of substance. It sure is an uphill climb
from here and every man will have to stand up and be counted if we are
to win the tri-series.
Moving on to the possible return of VVS Laxman for the next encounter
against Kenya, I feel it is a heartening development. But the SOS sent
out for Laxman also gives away the desperation that has set in the
Indian camp. I cannot also help but wonder why Laxman was not included
in the team in the first place itself when he was fit enough to lead the
Rest of India to a win over Baroda with a sparkling hundred in the Irani
Trophy. Mysterious indeed are the ways of Indian cricket...
Other Articles by Krish Srikkanth :