Back to square one

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, April 8, 2004, 10:16 [IST]
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Barring a miracle from Sehwag (86 not out at the writing of this column) and Patel, the Indians once again complemented bad umpiring with spineless ("back" to normal) batting. True, the umpires made mistakes but the Indians are squarely to blame for the cowardly batting. Not to mention Dravid being slapped with his third duck in what was a ridiculous dart for a suicidal run. Was such a move really needed at that critical juncture? Besides, just because the umpiring is dubious doesn't give Sourav's (or Dravid's) tigers to come out and bat like two legged pussycats! Remember Imran's motto of the 1992 World Cup, "like wounded tigers", not like a bunch of "woosy pussies"!

For all intends and purposes, the famed Indian line-up once again (back to normal?) lined up like a group of dominoes and were sent helter skelter by the Pakistani bowlers who are just bowling regular stuff. After having shredded the Pakistani bowlers' confidence in the first Test, one would think the Indians would capitalise on the advantage. However, they are probably getting back to normal. And if this "normalcy" continues, look for a ruthless Pakistani victory at Rawalpindi. Then, of course, will flow the avalanche of lame excuses from the Indian cricketers. "Too much cricket", "Unforeseen injuries", blah, blah, blah.

Is the one who didn't get to 200 so sore that he's taking it out by shabby batting? Or is the fact that Pakistan racked up 480 plus runs simply sapped the Indians confidence? In one of my earlier columns, I hoped that the Indian team would not forget their successes in Australia and how those were achieved. A batting backbone is only as strong as its weakest link and at present looks as if the "famed" batting line-up has more weak links than sturdy vertebrae. Looks like the Indians are already forgetting the good lessons learned Down Under and are headed down under in this series.

Don't point fingers at Pathan and Balaji! They are just starting out! The seasoned fellows are the ones to come under the microscope. Why do away with Aakash Chopra? He took blinders of catches this series and I hope whoever replaces him is a better fielder than Aakash. What is the likelihood of that happening? The only famed batting line up today is Australia's not India's. If there are any occasional hiccups in the Aussie batting line-up, the tailenders get into the act and mend the damage. However, the Indian batting line-up, once one of the icons hiccups, it looks like the rest want to break the previous batter's hiccup record rather than undo the damage. And of course, don't expect the bowlers to bat; they barely have their own trade mastered.

Can the Indian players show that they are not back to the normal abject surrender selves and prove me wrong? The debate about Sachin being a match-winner is going to get its spark all over again after what has transpired so far in the Indian second innings at Lahore. That monkey will never leave his back, it is there to stay. Sachin may just have to learn to live with it. However, in a "famed" batting line-up shouldn't every batsman be a match-winner as opposed to the onus falling on one piece of the batting armour.

At this point a draw looks like a distant dream, forget an unlikely win. Rawalpindi will decide the winner now. Pakistan 1 India 1 or will it be Pakistan Won India 1?

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