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India can still turn things around
Allan Donald | November 27, 2006 19:57 IST
India is in deep trouble. They did too many things wrong in the Newlands: batting, bowling or fielding.
If an opposition cannot be put away from a position in which India was in, then the hopes recede faster than the sum in your wallet in a club. This spells big time trouble.
Sure, the lost chances in the field would be mulled over for long. Justin Kemp included, there were as many as three lives afforded to key South African batsmen.
This is not just your ability with bat and ball failing you in testing conditions: it is a major negation of even ordinary skills which most of us cricketers possess at all times. There are too many pieces on the floor for India to pick up and rearrange in the thick of battle. The wind is too strong and the foothold too skewed, I am afraid.
You can meet as many times as you want in the hotel; have as many meetings as you could possibly squeeze in; hold as many video analysis as you humanly could; hold up coach or captain for your ills, but the basic surge has got to come from the men in the squad.
It is they who form the muscles, sinews, bones everything of a team's form. There simply are too many failures for any single individual to be held responsible. The buck stops with them.
I have spoken to a few distinguished old-timers of Indian cricket in recent days and most of them are unanimous that there are not enough good core of talented cricketers in the land. They all speak of a core group of 15-18 cricketers and then the list runs out. It is thus a difficult choice for
selectors: whether to lay off those who are not measuring up and replace them with some little- known names.
Wholesome replacements have never been the answer. I know fans and media back home are unforgiving and it is big-time trouble leading up to the World Cup; but pulling these men out of the fray at this juncture is not going to be of help.
Every time I speak in support of the visitors, the voice sounds shriller and lost in the din of criticism, but I still feel this Indian team can turn things around. They can work on South African batting and build on the advantage they have over the top order.
In both games, India had been good with the new ball and made early inroads. They would like to believe that they have got the measure of the home captain and a few other batters in the line-up.
It is a good starting point, the window of light, which should offer them energy and hope. They must push on from this basic premise, gather forces at this cape of reasonable stability. Otherwise, such defeats would have a knock-on effect on Tests as well.
They could also look to scratch at the disquiet in the home camp over team selection prior to Newlands game and see if the hurt runs deeper than a mere matter of Andre Nel's exclusion. I am not sure if it was annoyance before the game that cost Graeme Smith his wicket, but he sure had smoke coming out of his ears.
The home top order, Smith including, was once again exposed and looked vulnerable. They sure have work to do.
The return of Anil Kumble to one-day bowling crease was in line with expectations: he was miserly and in complete control during his 10 overs. That he came at number 11 and looked laboured in the outfield is a concern that must take the backseat for now.
India must look to maximise its potential rather than look at the perfect picture. They have to draw on every ounce of their positive strengths if they are to be counted on this tour.