India's defeats were waiting to happen

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Saturday, December 9, 2000, 19:05 [IST]
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Bangalore: The two World Cup defeats suffered by the Indians at the hands of the Australians (Southern Stars) and host New Zealand (Clear White Ferns), although, on expected lines for them, is definitely a shocker for the Indian team given their pre-tournament high. Well, though all is not lost as yet and they certainly are very much a potent threat in the tournament, these defeats, one feels, were waiting to happen.

In our pre-tournament preview 'How good are India's chances?', we had touched upon the topic of how India's agility in the field left a lot to be desired and could be a soft point for the opposition to target at. In 'many ways', this aspect of Indian cricket is the stone on which the opposition stepped on to undo the Indians.

Let us examine the so termed 'many ways' by which out-cricket (fielding) was a major contributor to India's below par performance in the above two mentioned matches.

For starters, no matter how good a bowling side you have, you have to take the chances that come your way. A lesser opponent in the category of South Africa and England may not have exposed the short comings, but the Southern Stars and the Clear White Ferns, well, they are the types who take delight in rubbing salt into the wounds.

That apart, the Stars and the Ferns are silver quick between the wickets - this was something that was noted during the 1997 World Cup. The truth of the matter is that, sadly the Indians have failed to realise how productive something as simple as running-between can be.

Firstly, it helps the batsman to accumulate runs without having to take much risk. Secondly by giving away one run were it is non existent and two where there is one and so on, the Indians only were making it doubly difficult for their batsmen.

On the other hand when our batsmen go out to play, the opposition fielders are so sharp that where there is a single we happen to squander it, where there is a couple we settle for one and so on and so forth. The end result two negatives make a big positive.

Well, fielding may not be the only reason but there is no doubt that it is a major deterrent/ plus in one's bid for supremacy.

This being the case one fails to understand why India refuse to get scientific with their approach and do away with their over dependence on oriental skill and flair. Yes, we have got top quality bowling and batting but sadly cricket is not all about batting and bowling. In modern day cricket it has been proved time and again that in a big match it is out-cricket that eventually tilts the balance.

So much for the fielding part of it.

In my opinion batting, bowling and fielding are just 50 per cent of one's cricket. The other 50 per cent, which is of equal importance, lies in a casket called 'brain box'. A successful potion for any aspiring team would be to blend the two fifties in desirable proportions.

Well, the Indian 'brain box', one feels, has so far not come out with the right input, if any:

a) Have they studied the opposition and come out with a counter or are they only sitting warm on their strengths waiting for it to hatch?

b) Have they taken time to categorically seek out their weakness or are they waiting for things to happen?

Well, these two matches do not reflect much. In fact, there have been glaring errors of judgment, which to an extent have gone to undermine India's chances.

One somehow feels the right eleven is not being played. Given the prevailing conditions Sunitha Kanojia should have been an automatic choice. However, we find Kanojia taking her place by default. Sending Purnima ahead of Chandrakanta left a lot to be desired. If at all she has to be utilised in the first 15 overs she has to go right at the top.

In Purnima's case - she being one of India's main bats, it makes sense in asking her to go after the bowling with a knowledge that all the wickets are in tact rather than when she knows that her team has lost an important wicket or two. Because if she has been sent to hit out then the best chance she has of succeeding is when she has no pressure of a wicket or two having fallen.

Even on the count of her being sent in her customary role, the move is a suicidal one. Chandrakanta is a free flowing batsman and she seemed in good nick in her previous outings. Why would anybody not want her going in as early as possible and get the needed time to get her eye in before she can launch herself.

Against the Australians precious time had been lost when she got to walk in. Nevertheless she did her best. Might be she could have scripted a different story if she did not have the pressure of a rapidly mounting run-rate at the back of her mind.

And these are just some of the slip-ups that come to mind.

Gauging by the moves that the Indian think-tank have so far come up with, in conclusion, one is compelled to state that unless these yawning gaps are plugged things may continue in the same vein.

One fervently hopes that the Indians will plug all the loopholes that have left a yawning gap in our armoury, so that we could play to our potential.

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