Normally, a choker is an item of jewellery worn around the neck
. However, with the Indian team's propensity to just not rise to the occassion when it is a cup final
, etymologists across the globe are pondering adding in another meaning to the word 'choker'. I'm not saying this Indian team doesnt turn up when the occasion demands it. After all it has in the past demonstrated the ability to pull off victories from the jaws of defeat
. But there seems to be some brain halt when it comes to finals. The triumph in the NatWest Series of 2002
is not enough to assuage the feelings of Indian cricket fan(atic)s.
Yesterday's game was lost by the batsmen [and perhaps by the decision to leave Kumble out]. The bowlers did very well to keep Sri Lanka down to 228 after they were approximately 140/2 in 32 overs. The fact that scoring runs was going to be tough against a spin oriented bowling attack like Sri Lanka's must have been made blindingly obvious from the way Sehwag and Tendulkar were turning the ball, leave alone Harbhajan. Yet, India's batsmen chose a very cautious approach to the target and the 50 came up only in the 15th
over. All it then took were a couple of wickets to set the cat amongst the pigeons.
Mohammad Kaif's spot in the team must be something worth discussing. Yes, he saves 15-20 runs on the field. But as the #7 batsman [not a fielder-batsman mind you!], he is also supposed to make runs now and then. With Kaif, it is a "when it rains it pours" kind of situation. In the last 20 innings he has played, he has made 474 runs, 276 of them coming from four games
. Clearly India is carrying a fielder who cannot make runs consistently. Yuvraj too can field. But he is far more consistent than Kaif. The argument that Kaif comes far too low down the order to make runs in bulk quantities is a stupid one. Why hasnt the management tried pushing him up the order as they did in the World Cup? He didnt do too badly then, did he?
If he is in the side as a batsman, he must make runs. Simple. If he is only worth 20-25 runs per game (as a fielder only), then we're probably better off selecting someone who only saves 5-10 runs per game but can on a consistent basis score 25-30 runs, every time. Alternately we can just pick a specialist keeper who will definitely save more runs [and effect more runouts] than Dravid and score a few runs as well. A team which claims to be #2 in the world must not carry non-performers.