Indians need to propel to higher plane

Written by: Mamatha Maben
Published: Tuesday, April 9, 2002, 17:35 [IST]
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Bangalore: In my previous column, regarding the gains the Indian team brought home from its trip to South Africa, I had listed a few plus points, which would hold the team in good stead. Having said that, I would like to add that there are quite a few areas that the Indian team needs to take a look into. The first thing the team needs to do is not let the success of a Test win on foreign soil get to its head. We need to acknowledge that we have done well but that's about it. The team has a long way to go and it needs to put its head down and start a fresh. The team has got an impetus now and it needs to utilise this impetus to propel it to a higher plane.

In order to climb higher up the ladder, we need to sit and give our negatives a serious thought. First on the list of negatives is the team's fielding ability. Yes, the team did get a rough deal with the weather playing havoc and some real poor umpiring decisions, but even so I believe we could have done much better in the One- day series had we held on to our catches.

If this team has done well in spite of its butter fingers, it sure does speak volumes of the abundance of cricketing skill this team possesses, which can be put to far greater effect if only it is supported with equally skilled work in the fielding department.

When it comes to tighter oppositions like the New Zealanders and the Australians, these out-cricket skills is what will finally tilt the balance. Hence we need to give our fielding department a face-lift.

There is one more aspect, which needs a serious thought, and it is the running between wickets. We still look for the big shots to fetch us runs or a sure shot single. That is the reason why we are slow off the blocks and our scoring rate is a pale two or a touch under two to an over.

Initially the field is up and one doesn't find lose balls coming one's way every other delivery or for that matter every other over. This is where the ability to play with soft hands coupled with some swift running come in handy. I feel, in both departments we are found lacking.

If we are not adept at playing the ball into gaps with soft hands we are equally inadept with our running between skills. There might be one or two swift runners but that doesn't help matters. It takes two to tango, and if one of the partners is found to be slow then everything goes out of the window, as we would not like to lose a wicket to a run out.

But in the greater picture, the team losses out as a result of missed singles. It is absolutely critical that all the members of the team are on the swifter side, if not equally swift.

All this means we need to place greater emphasis on our fitness and see to it we measure up to the demands of international cricket. After all, we are representing our nation and it is no mean job. We need to be asked to shape up or ship out.

If we as a team can work on these two departments - fielding and running between, we can go a long distance.

That apart, there are a few other off the field aspects that need to be looked into. For instance, we need a more competitive domestic circuit, we need to play our premier tournaments on playable grounds and on sporting pitches, and since, at this point in time, Australia and New Zealand are true ability-indicators we need to make an effort to slot out a schedule with them.

Where our batting and bowling is concerned - these basically, are our plus points - it is not that we need no improving. Although we are better off in those departments they too need fine tuning as it will only serve us well if we were to keep working towards excellency.


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