It is said that form is not as important when it comes to cricket as much as class. It is said that a classy player will always be successful with a few spates of failure sprinkled here and there. However, nowadays a cricketer is judged by his form – class only comes in when he or she is being selected for the first time. It is in this vein that India’s condition in the ongoing Carlton Mid Tri Series evokes a sense of worry among the Indian fans. In spite of the teeming multitude of talent that is Indian cricket, the team is yet to win a game on the tour. After all, who does not know that before a tournament of the stature of the World Cup momentum is always important – it is better to enter a tournament on a winning note rather than a losing one.
What would have further dismayed the common Indian fans is the manner of defeats. In the first game India was at least able to put up a fighting score only for the bowlers to squander it with their inconsistency and profligacy. The second game against England was even worse. India was bundled out for around 150 on a perfectly acceptable pitch by Steven Finn and Co. As things stand now, there are more questions than answers and perhaps, since the tournament is being held in foreign shores the problems have gained magnitude because one feels that the supposedly inhospitable conditions will afford the team not many chances to make amends.
Indian players’ condition
First of all is the fitness condition of Indian players especially the bowlers. Ishant Sharma, who is being seen as the mainstay of the attack in the Australian conditions, is nursing an injured ankle. Ravindra Jadeja, who according to Dhoni, is extremely important for the balance of the side, is recovering from an injury as well. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was unable to play in the Test series owing to an injury, has lost the 130 kph plus pace that made his swing so effective. He could very well be replaced by Binny, who has justifiably earned the trust of Dhoni with some decent displays. Rohit Sharma, a major top order batsman and a successful one as well, has been injured too. All these players are very crucial to India’s chances of retaining the World Cup and one only hopes that they are fit so that India can at least put up some credible displays.
Secondly, the form of some cricketers is a major worry. Dhawan has clearly lost his touch and his tendency to fish outside the off stump has got him into a lot of trouble of late. He clearly needs to knuckle down and find form ahead of the tournament because with him in good form the powerful middle order of India will get the much needed cushion.
The bowling problem
Bowling, especially quick bowling, has traditionally been a problematic area for Indian cricket and this time it is no different either. Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav, the two quick bowlers, represent this problem like none else. Both have had mixed days till now – however, the bad ones are outstripping the good by some distance. They have not even been able to bowl 6 balls at the same spot – a very basic requirement of the game. This is a major problem for the team management, something that it has not been able to correct even in two months. What has further compounded matters is the lack of a proper bowling coach with experience and success in international cricket, someone who can impress on them the need to be disciplined first and then go for wickets.
However, on the flipside, the Indian team has had some experience of Aussie conditions having spent almost two months over there. The batsmen would have had some time to get adjusted to the pace and bounce of the wickets on offer. The team management would also have been able to form some idea of the team combination and strategies for the different grounds. The only problem with this theory is that in 1992 too the Indian team had spent a similar amount of time in Australia before the World Cup but it bowed out in the group stage with a 7th place finish. One only hopes that the results are different this time around.