India should not sit on past laurels

Written by: Sunil Vasudeva
Published: Thursday, August 12, 2004, 14:00 [IST]
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After overtaking the new look Zimbabwe's score of 205 for nine with a 207 for three with 10.2 overs to spare, Ricky Ponting called it a rustic performance. However, note what the Indians do, after what they felt was a well-deserved rest. Against UAE in the Asia Cup, they scratch out 260 for six off 50 overs thanks to the timely 104 by Dravid. Thankfully, the bowlers did their bit with the ever-reliable Irfan Pathan leading from the front. This was almost reminiscent of India Vs Holland match in the 2003 World Cup - the batting line-up earning their blushes and the bowlers coming through to wipe them off.

Going by the Aussie yardstick, India's performance against UAE in the Asia Cup would be classified as "badly corroded". In fact, so much corroded were the batters than even Sachin Tendulkar was reduced to calling his 82 not out against Bangladesh a return to form! Reality was just around the corner in the form of resounding defeats from the Lankans and Pakistanis.

Then, Harbhajan Singh truly took the cake on how to intimidate thy opponent. He tells the media about how he was going to bowl to Jayasuriya with his "mystery ball'' that continues to be a mystery.

This seems to be the bane of the Indians at present. They return from hiatuses like the hiatus never ended. They make a mockery of themselves all over the field.

Greg Chappell aptly referred to the Indians as "champion chokers". What else can you call a team that loses 13 out of 15 finals? It was the same Greg Chappell who hit the nail on the head when he said that the Indians go on every overseas tour with the mindset that they are going to get whipped. However, the Indians proved him wrong by their performance in the recent Test series Down Under as well as in the Pakistan tour. However, this upward trend should not be mixed with abysmal lows for a team vying for the number two slot.

The reason why Irfan Pathan was so effective in the Asia Cup was because he went back to the MRF foundation to hone his bowling skills. His diligence during the hiatus paid off as he topped the wickets tally in the Asia Cup. Tendulkar saved himself more blushes by finishing second in that aspect. However, what is Tendulkar known for? His batting or bowling?

If every Indian player followed Irfan's modus operandi, then they would not look so awful in their first games upon return. I agree with what one cricketer said regarding going to commercial shoots not taking too much energy out of players. However, do they ever focus on their cricket while on break or do they take a break altogether. It is hard to fathom how people who call themselves professionals forget the basics from year to year. How often do we see the Aussies doing that? Even if an Aussie did do that, he would find himself on the standby or discarded list soon!

However, in Indian cricket, that is not the prevailing order. Past accomplishments are good. However, they never figure into the present match scorecards. Do they? So, stop parroting that mantra time and again. If they want to be up there with the Aussies then they must "walk the walk and talk the talk". No excuses, no explanations! Just go out there and get the job done.

The latest for Tendulkar is "wet rubber ball" practise. It is nice to see that he's doing something to counteract his opponents who for the longest time have been toying with him like a yo-yo. It is about time he started to outthink his opponents.

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