The 'F' Factor That Keeps Killing India - The New Indian Express

The 'F' Factor That Keeps Killing India

Published: 07th March 2014 04:00 AM

Last Updated: 07th March 2014 04:10 AM

Is India playing too much cricket? Of course, it could be common to all teams, for that is the demand of modern-day schedule. The players do not have enough rest before they embark on new tours.

It is very much India’s case. In November, a home series against the West Indies was squeezed for Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell. Immediately, they flew to South Africa before travelling to New Zealand. After two days of rest, they hopped onto Bangladesh.  The players are mentally and physically drained.  Such was the predicament that the Indians often skipped practice sessions to give their fatigued bodies a well-deserved rest. It drew much criticism, especially from Sunil Gavaskar, who thought they did not show much interest.

Reacting to Gavaskar’s criticism, Ambati Rayudu said: “We have been travelling from South Africa to New Zealand and then here. We landed and played a game here just two days after travelling from New Zealand. The players are going through mental fatigue as well.’’

The team will be back to this country in a few of days for the Twenty20 World Cup. Then comes IPL-7 and the England tour. Players might feel the pinch and there is every chance of players breaking down in the middle of important tours.

The strain was visible in the Asia Cup. Indians seemed to lose the focus in the crucial stages of the game, particularly against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Captain Virat Kohli may have felt that they were unlucky to lose the close matches but the fact was that they were tired and not good enough. MS Dhoni preferring to skip the tournament because of a side strain helped the selectors to test Kohli’s captaincy. He did a reasonable job but one still wonders the decision to leave out leg-spinner Amit Mishra from the first two matches. Perhaps, in hindsight, it may have ruined India’s chances in the Asia Cup. Slow as the wickets are here, it is prudent to go with extra spinner than a medium pacer.

The erratic Varun Arun was all over the place against Bangladesh. His expensive overs nearly cost India the match. Not learning from the first match experience, India replaced him with all-rounder Stuart Binny against Sri Lanka.  Binny made a zero and leaked 22 runs in his four overs. India missed a fifth bowler and Rohit Sharma had to roll his off-spin.

Kohli sensibly played Mishra against Pakistan. The leg spinner, who was reduced to a tourist in most tours, kept Pakistan’s batsmen on a leash. But the damage was already done.

Another cause of concern was Mohammed Shami’s bowling. Shami either over-pitched or bowled short.  Even Afghanistan’s batsmen found him easy to handle and was punished for eight fours. 

The team management could have tested the raw Ishwar Pandey as it could have given him exposure, more so as he is also part of the T20 squad. Also, it could have given Shami a well-deserved rest. Cheteshwar Pujara, too, was not given a chance.

The only experiment was Ajinkya Rahane replacing Rohit Sharma as Shikhar Dhawan’s partner. Rahane struck a half-ton and later said he enjoyed the challenge at number four but preferred to open. It has to be seen whether India would persist with him at the top. Another positive was Rayudu, who showed he has the character to prosper.  Still, India missed someone who could accelerate in the middle overs, which Rayudu attributed to the slow nature of the wicket. Kohli said India missed a finisher like Thisara Perera or Shahid Afridi. However, it is a role Dhoni has mastered. 

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