India need to deliver in crunch games

15 Jan 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in Indian Cricket Team

indian-cricket-teamThe Indian team may have retained their number two ranking in ODIs despite the loss in the tri-series finals, but their insipid showing does not augur well for the World Cup, which is just over a year away. The worrying aspect is that this is not a one-off loss. India have been faltering in the finals way too often in recent years and in most cases, it is the strong batting line-up that has let them down. The Dhaka final had a similar tale to tell. This is one aspect India will need to work on very hard if they want to be seen as strong contenders for the 2011 World Cup.

Cricket may be a team game, but it is important that each and every individual takes up certain responsibility and tries to fulfil it to the hilt, especially in such crunch games. Starting with the openers, Virender Sehwag can play only one way and should continue doing so, but his partner Gautam Gambhir could look at adopting a slightly cautious in case Sehwag is doing well. To be fair to Gambhir, he has been doing an excellent job and was plain unlucky to be dismissed in the finals, but then things could have been different had he decided to take his time and not attempted strokes from the word go.

Virat Kohli had a great series, but unfortunately failed on the D-day. While one can’t be too harsh on him as he is still relatively inexperienced, his shot selection was rather disappointing for a man in prime form. Kohli needs to realize that such purple patches don’t come in your career often and hence you must make the best use of it. The plus point in Kohli’s favour is that he has proved to be a quick learner – the transformation from scoring 30s and 40s to hundreds has been rather swift. He now just needs to carry on the good work.

Like Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni’s shot selection was also questionable. But then that’s the flip side of being aggressive. When it doesn’t work, it ends up looking rather ugly. India would dearly hope the experienced duo can get their act together in future finals. That is because if they fire, there is very little chance of India losing, such will be the brutality of their attack. In short, the Indian batters need to work out a proper mechanism when it comes to competing in finals.

To be brutally honest, the situation is equally bad in the bowling department, if not worse. And a lot of it has to be attributed to the non-stop cricket the Indians have been playing (for some weird reason, mostly against Sri Lanka) as well as the power play restrictions. Zaheer Khan has clearly lost the edge he held over batsmen over six months back and his partner Ashish Nehra’s fitness concerns have comeback to haunt him again. To lose Nehra in a final was a big setback for India and vindicates the selectors’ stance to keep him away from the Test squad. Harbhajan Singh continues to bamboozle us all and this has been haunting India for a dangerously long time. Time for some soul searching, boys.

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