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    August 10, 2005

    Things don't change after a year

    Almost exactly a year ago, India fell short by 25 runs in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka. A change in the leadership team is all that has changed. Yesterday, in an extremely inept and unacceptable display of bowling, fielding and batting against Sri Lanka, India lost yet another one-day final, by 18 runs. Notice the success percentage keeps dropping so alarmingly.

    Atapattu winning the toss meant that India were on the defensive from the very start. So it was hardly surprising when they had to chase 282, in spite of picking five bowlers. Opinions may differ on whether Kumble must be included in one-day sides or not, but if there was a plan on utilizing resources in the tournament, I did not quite see it. He played a total of two games, one of them being the "for all purposes" semi-final against West Indies.

    VVS Laxman, whose place in the one-day side is also a matter of debate, was left out to accomodate five bowlers. The experimentation with the batting order did not really yield any answers. Neither Suresh Raina nor Venugopala Rao were in yesterday's side in spite of good showings earlier on, especially Rao's knock in the first game when India was struggling. Raina fielded very well, although he must be better with his shot selection. Poor Jai P Yadav did not even have an opportunity to show that he could probably be the all-rounder India craves for.

    I don't get the planning aspect of this. Four full-time bowlers and the part-time spinners gave Sri Lanka not one but two scares in the tournament. Yet the management opted to experiment with a different setup in a final? I really do find it very odd. Nehra did take six wickets but he was costly, as were Pathan and Kumble. Zaheer bowled a terrible first spell and made amends later on, but he did not complete his quota, even though he had given away less than five an over. In spite of Nehra's six wicket haul, I would still include Agarkar in the one-day side. He is a far better batsman and fielder. In one-day cricket, multi-dimensional skills count. The problem is that aside from Pathan and Harbhajan, when he isn't acting like a 'Surd', the other bowlers can neither field nor bat, unless Balaji is facing Sami or Akhtar. Among the batsmen in this tournament, Sehwag, Ganguly and Yuvraj are the only ones who could roll their arm over, and even though Sehwag and Ganguly were expensive, Yuvraj's left-arm was primarily only used for fielding.

    As it turned out, six batsmen, including Dhoni, were not enough. Sehwag played superbly but threw it away two balls after he had belted Loku 'Hit-me-again' for twenty six runs in an over. Dravid and Yuvraj consolidated beautifully and India needed 96 runs in 89 balls with eight wickets in hand. At that stage, he chose to display that he could hit a sweep shot in the air. Things went downhill from there. A few comical run-outs and while Kaif hung on, there was absolutely no way a miracle was going to happen. Dravid and Yuvraj were playing absolutely great percentage cricket, even though the run-rate did start to reduce when Yuvraj got out. But 96 in 89 with 8 wickets in hand is an easy win. Not so for the new South Africans.

    The team's slump in one-dayers in the last two years is very shocking. The problem is that it is not as though they do not have the ability or personnel to do well. The problem is that they do not plan enough and when they do plan enough, the implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 5:51 PM |
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    2 sledge(s):

    The art of choking is India's own domain. A plan has to be backed up by strong individuals who believe in their skills. A closed mindset against Murali and Vaas couldn't have been part of the plan. Atleast I hope it wasn't. And I completely agree that carrying JP Yadav as a passenger was absolutely rubbish if India didn't have an all-rounders role planned in this tournament.

    By Blogger Ashwin Ramachandran (11-Aug-2005, 3:48:00 AM)  

    We seem to go into matches with absolutely no plan. Now the coach doesnt want to be part of the selection pannel for the captain. Check this story What could be his reasons? Its beyond me.

    By Blogger geekgod (12-Aug-2005, 12:14:00 PM)  

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