Sunday, January 07, 2007

Defeat in Cape Town: Time for surgery within Team India

By John Cheeran
India lost the Cape Town Test by five wickets to South Africa and the three-Test series by a margin of 1-2.
India did not deserve anything better than the defeat. During the last two days their best weapon to unsettle Graeme Smith’s plans was rain drops.
Now clouds of uncertainty hover around the Team India bandwagon as they flee from South Africa. For their performance on the fourth and fifth days of the Cape Town Test was hardly befitting a professional side.
The series is over, there were some coruscating moment such as the victory in the first Test in Johannesburg but if there is one reason why India had lost the Test and one-day series it is their fragile batting.
It would be silly to find fault with peripherals such as Rahul Dravid’s captaincy and leaving off-spinner Harbhajan Singh out of the team for the Cape Town Test.
Even on the last day of the match the tried and tested leg-spinner Kumble could not trouble South African batsmen consistently.
India lost the Cape Town Test by their feckless batting in the second innings. Had they scored 75 runs more and occupied the crease two more hours, the contours of the game would have been altered.
Even skipper Dravid who made some runs failed to carry forward with his good work. Sachin Tendulkar appeared totally clueless about his task at the crease. VVS Laxman committed suicide by getting run out. Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer turned out to be utter disappointments when all they had to do was bat with some amount of common sense.
India lost the Durban Test too, thanks to the inconsistent batting.
And if you remember the humiliation of the one-day series problem was reckless batting.
Yes, Sourav Ganguly has made a triumphant return to the side. Everyone then hailed the return of the experienced campaigners such Ganguly and Laxman made all the difference to the side.
I haven’t heard trashier humbug than that.
Now what happens to the experience factor?
What did Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Dravid do with their experience?
A few bright spots from this disastrous series have been the gutsy shows from young fast bowler Sreesanth and batsman Dinesh Karthick.
Sreesanth won the Johannesburg Test for India while Karthick has reminded the National selectors, including Dilip Vengsarkar, that they should look ahead and bring in fresh blood again with his refreshing approach to the business of run gathering.
Indian team management should dump Virender Sehwag at the first opportunity. He does not deserve to play for India anymore considering his disgraceful approach to the batting. India should play the World Cup without Sehwag and should plan ahead keeping the iconic Tendulkar only in the reserves.

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