Prasad Moyarath

Indian juggernaut rolls on. India’s dream run at home continues. Sports journalists showered words of praise on the Indian cricket team for their recent one day international series victories over England and West Indies in India. They have forgotten the Indian team’s pathetic show in England recently. With a tri-nation series in Australia approaching, what purpose these home matches have served for Indian cricket is a matter to ponder for cricket aficionados.

Injuries combined with the overdose of cricket compelled the BCCI to rest many senior stars for these home ODIs. But this also dished out a golden opportunity to the Indian selectors to groom new replacements for the current stars. But to everyone’s dismay, the BCCI and its selectors have proved once again that they are least interested in the future. What have they done wrong? The answer to this question, though lengthy, will be easier than finding an answer for what they have done right.

BCCI could have used the home season as an opportunity to build on a younger opening pair in Rahane and Patel

Circumstances forced the Indian team management to find a new opening pair of Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane in England. They did considerably well in the trying circumstances in England. It is more difficult to groom a new opening pair than a new player. Knowing this well, the Indian selectors could have continued with them for the ten ODIs in India. Even though both these players were part of the team, the selectors never seemed to imagine about such a possibility. This pair was never given a continued run and both these players were on trial thereby spoiling their confidence. Were the selectors expecting 38 year old Tendulkar and 33 year old Sehwag to continue as openers for a long time? With Gambhir being injury prone and a one dimensional player, it is time the selectors start looking for a new opening pair. The selectors and the team management should have guided Parthiv and Ajinkya and molded them as a reliable opening pair.

Number three or one down is a very crucial batting slot in any form of the game and India is yet to find a good replacement for Dravid for this position. Virat Kohli has relished this position and has done well in the recent past. The Indian selectors and the team management could have instilled confidence in him to take over this responsible role.

Lack of a fast bowling all-rounder has been haunting the Indian side ever since the retirement of Kapil Dev. Apart from Irfan Pathan, the Indian selectors have not unearthed any other options so far. But India seems to have discovered a spin bowling all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja. He is a compact batsman and should be sent ahead of Raina in the batting order. Ashwin and Vinay Kumar also seem to have batting abilities and the ODI series at home could have been used to unearth their batting talents. Rahul Sharma was given a chance only at the end of the West Indian series and so was Manoj Tiwari. If they were not needed for these matches, instead of sitting in the dressing room, the BCCI could have released them to play Ranji Trophy matches for their state.

Umesh Yadav and Varun Aoron demonstrated the importance of pace in international cricket and the selectors still seem unwilling to shed their old habits. They have gone back to Mithun and Vinay kumar who lack pace. T P Sudhindra of Madhya Pradesh, Shami Ahamed and Ashok Dinda of Bengal should have got a look-in in these inconsequential ODIs. Going by the current form, Abhishek Nayar also should have got a recall as a seam bowling all-rounder.

The stand in captain Sehwag was not good enough and openly criticized the top order for their failure thereby putting pressure on the top order. But he still continued to play some irresponsible shots. India need to look beyond Dhoni as captain and the selectors wasted a golden opportunity to groom Virat Kohli for the future.

The BCCI should stop treating ODIs at home as sources of revenue. Each series should be planned with future in mind. For example, a series in Australia should not be preceded by a series at home. The selectors should have confidence in their abilities and should not drop a player based on public opinion. The case of Ravindra Jadeja clearly proves how the public opinion can go wrong.

Can we expect any planning for the future from the BCCI who is unwilling to listen to Anil Kumble’s plan for NCA? If Kumble is giving up, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.

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