Can India retain their numero uno status in test cricket

06 Feb 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in Indian Cricket Team

Can India retain their numero uno status in test cricket? If so, for how long?

India got to number one by beating Sri Lanka. To be at the top of the Test level for long it is vital that all facets of the game are covered be it fielding, bowling or batting. Today, I will be doing a SWOT Analysis of the Indian cricket team which will tell us whether India are a long term number one or whether Australia and South Africa are coming back to take the top post away.

As Ian chapell famously said with India its not India who has taken the top post from Australia. Australia have come down to the level of India after having lost their great players—India haven’t pulled themselves too high.

S-Strengths—
Batting—India’s batting remains a huge plus for them. They seem to un-ending talent when it comes to the batting department. An example to this is how great players like Rahul Dravid and Sourav ganguly have been replaced with such ease at the ODI level. I don’t think any team could have coped with the loss of such great batsmen that easily. After laxman and Tendulkar India seem to have talent in young virat kohli, subramaniam badrinath, rohit Sharma and plenty others.

The batting department seems to be covered. Bowling- India’s only bowling strength seems to be Zaheer khan. He is the only bowler who seems to have done well in the past 18 months. Harbhajan who has been the other permanent feature in the line-up has under-performed which is a major concern for the Indian team.

W-Weaknesses
Bowling-
Harbhajan singh—Bhajji continues to be a worry for India. His performance after anil kumble’s retirement has gone down immensely. He hasn’t assumed the role of the main strike bowler as of yet and is a grave cause of concern for the 6 wise men (Selectors).
India’s lack in bowling depth—VVS Laxman recently mentioned in one of the papers that India doesn’t seem to have that kind of bench strength when it comes to the spin bowling department. Bench strength doesn’t mean the number of players it means the number of quality players. Hence India in spite of having lots of pace bowlers—barely one or two quality ones are to be seen.

Fielding-
India’s fielding is a worry. They have to pounce on to their catches and there is no athletic fielder in the Indian test ranks especially after Yuvraj seems to have given his belly some working. Perhaps that will be sorted once the seniors make way for the youngsters.

O-Opportunities
Bowling-
Since India have one of the longest bowling line up in the world clearly they can convert some of them into good ones. With BCCI (Board of control for cricket in India) being the richest cricket board in the world they can develop a lot of camps not just at state levels but also at the junior level which will help develop bowlers for the future and will stand in good stead for India in the future.

T- Threats
With cash rich leagues like the IPL and champions league coming in young talent could sway towards the money part of the game in order to support their families. Hence, it is vital for the Indian board i.e. the BCCI to take the required actions and prevent this from happening.

Another possible threat could be India could just over rely on their batting strength which would not develop their bowlers. We saw how Irfan Pathan started concentrating on his batting more than his bowling. The same seems to be happening to harbhajan Singh too.

If India indeed want to stay at the top level, especially with Australia slowly but surely coming back to full strength they would have their task cut out. The main challenge for India will come when they will tour South Africa, England and Australia especially without the likes of VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and the master himself Sachin Tendulkar.

Whether or not the young guns would be able to produce the goods under such un-friendly batting conditions is yet to be seen. But, as of now India need to work on their bowling skills. They need Ishant Sharma to get his rhythm back so that he gets his pace back. Once his pace his back to the mid 140’s the nip back in to the batsmen would be more effective. India cannot be too content with Harbhajan Singh. They need to use Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha a lot more in all forms of the game. Only once the pressure is there on harbhajan will he need to perform.

All good teams have wonderful fielding units; although India have a wonderful set of catchers; they need to make sure they need to improve their work in the outfield. However, the most important thing and the fact of the matter still remains that to stay at number one you need to win test matches all around the world and you won’t win test matches without taking 20 wickets too often, in other words you need quality bowlers to win you test matches.

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