After their limitations were exposed on bouncy and seaming pitches in England and Australia, Team India’s cup of woes is now complete with the loss against England on spin-friendly home soil. MS Dhoni’s side were completely outplayed, that is for sure.
On many an occasion, the Indian batsmen did not know whether to play the England spinners – Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar - on the front foot or the back foot. Our own spinners – Dhoni tried five of them – did not seem to know whether to flight the ball or to bowl quicker through the air, nor to bowl outside the off-stump or into the stumps. Our batsmen were consistently beaten by drift and flight while the opposing batsmen dealt with the Indian spinners comfortably.
The dynamics of the play on view virtually suggested that England were the home team and India were the visitors, struggling to find their feet in unfamiliar surroundings. At the crossroads is what Indian cricket finds itself, what then is the way out? Skipper Dhoni himself seemed to have the answers, but left room for other questions as well in explaining India’s predicament.
“If you don’t give youngsters chances, how do you know whether they are good enough or not?” Dhoni said, referring to the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, after the match.
“You won’t get all of them scoring big hundreds in their first game. You have to back youngsters who you think are very talented, who you think can succeed at the top level. Even if they don’t score in a few games, it is important to back them. It’s about trying them and giving them a chance to prove themselves with proper exposure at first-class level and proper backing at international level, in some time they will start scoring.”
So why is 24-year-old Ajinkya Rahane, who has a formidable first-class average of 63.35 with 19 centuries, found a place in the XI for the past three series?
The compact Mumbaikar, whom all experts without exception have termed Test material, has been watching from the sidelines, away to Australia and at home against New Zealand and now England. This is when senior openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been inconsistent. Further, the captain said: “We are going through a tough time. A few big players have left us. Youngsters coming up will have to fill the gap, and seniors will have to take extra responsibility till the juniors start getting runs or start taking wickets.”
So, who will take up the responsibility? Australia is coming early next year. There is talk of an India-Pakistan series too. Will someone decide by then?