As with any in transition, no matter their iridescent history, periodic highs are as invariable as dithering lows. Hence, India’s humbling loss in Mumbai, a week after their crushing win in Motera, shouldn’t be viewed through the lens of harsh revisionism.
Such inconsistencies are prone to occur for any team in evolution, as evidenced by Australia since the retirements of their legion of legends. So is India, filling up the departure of the technically efficient Rahul Dravid and their go-to crisis man VVS Laxman.
And it’s not like plucking their make-for-make replacements from thin air. It’s a process, and not an overnight incidence, the completion of which is unpredictable and varying.
In times as these, patience is the polestar virtue, and the selectors showed their prudence by not reacting kneejerk by making rampant changes to the team for the Kolkata Test and rightly so. It’s so uncomplicated, and sometimes instinctive, to blame the Indian batsmen barring Cheteshwar Pujara and their spinners except Pragyan Ojha for their listless show in Mumbai.
It should be taken into consideration that India’s GenNext is still a study in progress, and the process invariably involves few stutters and fumbles.
Hence, blaming Virat Kohli for not delivering is as hollow as it sounds. The 24-year-old Delhiite is India’s most promising batsman on the horizon — his match-winning capabilities undisputed in the shorter versions.
But to transpire that consistency into the longest version isn’t a seamless procedure. Having already cracked the Test-hundred formula, he has reinforced his wares, and the consistency will eventually settle in. Even Laxman consumed time to guarantee his spot in the line-up, and hence anyone who replaces him should be given a similar timeframe.
And on a wicket as this, the ball turning and bouncing as awkwardly as it did in Mumbai, only the most experienced battlers would have prospered in the second innings. With experience, Kohli would be similarly adept at dealing with such tracks.
Likewise Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner struggled to alter both his length and line in conditions vastly different from Ahmedabad. Not that he tried less, maybe he tried too hard, but he couldn’t make the necessary adjustments required to blossom.
A cricket nerd that he is, Ashwin would already be dissecting the pitch map with the computer analyst. A piece of advice from legends such as Anil Kumble could only help.
As for Harbhajan Singh, whether or not he is a spent force, he is certainly playing better than Piyush Chawla and Amit Mishra, hence he is in the team.
Such is the repercussion of the 10-wicket defeat that even India’s most successful batsman Sachin Tendulkar and their World-Cup winning skipper MS Dhoni themselves have to fend off awkward clamour for their ouster.
But at least for a while, they are vital to the side’s rebuilding phase, for the youngsters would only massively benefit from the old-hands, as opposed to the contrary public opinion of them blocking the youngsters’ progress. Not the least the 39-year-old talisman.