Now that the series against the West Indies is in the bag, is it worth asking how we should’ve treated it? Should it have been viewed as an excellent opportunity to ascertain our dominance at home, which we have now, or just as an antidote to forget the humiliation in England? Whichever way, the fact is India has managed only one Test victory in the last seven Test matches before this series began. It was important to get back to winning ways, for nothing succeeds like success.
But at this juncture, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to think about the ways to succeed in Australia, who we play later this year, while also dominating the West Indies now? While some may call it wishful thinking, we mustn’t forget that a. West Indies is no longer the West Indies of the 70s and 80s, and that b. we had been the No. 1 Test side until recently, which should give us some sort of an edge against Australia. I’d like to believe that if India had played even 70 per cent to their potential, winning this series against WI wouldn’t have been a herculean task in these conditions.
While charting out a blueprint for the series Down Under, it would be wise to look back and pick some crucial lessons from the outing in England. And for heaven’s sake not mix up the need for warm-up matches with the lack of preparation, since the former is only meant to provide final touches. The real preparation must start a few months in advance (which was now) with identifying the personnel, who’re most likely to succeed in those conditions. Once that is done, enough exposure in familiar conditions (read home conditions) should be given to boost their confidence. Like in 2003, when I was identified as the potential partner for Virender Sehwag for the tour to Australia, I was given a couple of Test matches against New Zealand at home. Those few innings at the international level instilled the belief that I was primed for the big job.
The current set-up indicates that we may not be as meticulous as we were back then. If Abhinav Mukund is going to be our third opener, then wouldn’t it have been prudent to give him a couple of Test matches against the West Indies, since he may be a little shaky after a not-so-good showing in England. Unfortunately, he has failed to find a spot in the Test team at the moment, while Rahane has. Ironically, Rahane doesn’t open for Mumbai in first-class cricket. So, if the plan is to pitch him as the third opener, we should’ve played him in a couple of Test matches in India or made him to play for Mumbai as an opener in the Ranji trophy. It would be unreasonable to expect either Rahane or Mukund to deliver the goods suddenly in Australia. Or are we 100 per cent sure that the need won’t arise?
There’s another equally important case of finalising the No. 6 slot in the Test team. It’s a toss-up between Yuvraj and Kohli but wouldn’t it be better if both were given equal opportunities in India before nailing the issue. At the moment, Kohli will only get a look-in if Yuvraj fails and if he does, there won’t be enough time to gauge Kohli, the Test batsman. He’d be taken to Australia because Yuvraj failed and not because he scored.
Last but not the least, the bowlers. Are we taking Rahul Sharma to Australia, since wrist spinners do a lot better as opposed to finger spinners in Australia? But are we going to do so without even testing him once? Will Varun Aaron make the cut and if he does, will we know before the tour whether he has it in him to succeed in the longer format?
These aren’t easy questions and may require hard decisions, but if we fail to bite the bullet now, we may bite the dust later.
This entry was posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
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