Friday, January 13, 2012

The Only Change

My first article in this blog
India lost the test series to Australia in 2004-05 as well as 2007-08. After that, India came back in a solid manner, by defeating Australia in two home series but, by then, India had come into such a position . However, this article would be restricted to the tours of 2007-08 and 2011-12 (The previous tour of Australia and the present one).  

When India visited Australia in 2007, there weren't much expectations from them. Indeed they were the world champions in the T20 format but that didn't add to any pressure as Australia were the world champions. They also had a very solid side, a great opening pair in Hayden and Jacques followed by a middle order of Ponting, Hussey, Clarke and Gilchrist and a formidable bowling line-up with Johnson, Lee and Hogg. Inevitably, even the Indian press had very less expectations on the Indian team and hence, Kumble didn't have to carry the burden of expectation with him.  

India were definitely not being comfortable Down Under with their side struggling against Victoria (a pity that the game had to get washed out) and when the day had come for the big match, the first test, Australia thrashed India by 337 runs and didn't give India even a glimmer of hope since the beginning of the third innings. The second test at Sydney, though has a lot of controversies, in my opinion, the bad decisions didn't influence India's chances of victory, it only changed India's chances of drawing the game and I personally feel, even if there had been no mistakes in the umpiring decisions (which is nearly impossible, without the DRS), it would have been a comfortable victory for the Australians. Of course, the aforementioned statement on the Sydney Test is highly debatable. India did win at Perth but when a team scores 500+ in the first innings and if it doesn't retain the lead, then, it means that neither of the teams were in the game and that is what happened in the fourth test. So, although Australia's 2-1 series victory looks marginal on paper, a deeper analysis would make the analyst realise that Australia's win was indeed convincing.

Coming to the current tour, the expectations on the Indian team had increased astronomically. Analysts and former players, from India and around the world started predicting India to have a very comfortable victory. Some just ended their prediction with a series win for India while some others went to the extent of predicting a 3-1 win and a whitewash for Australia in their own backyard. Furthermore, the fact that they are the reigning world champions also added more pressure notwithstanding test cricket and ODI are two completely different forms of the game.

The captain of the team changed, but their philosophy still remains the same – that is : they'd use slow bowlers for most of the overs, depend on one good fast bowler (Zaheer Khan) and another mediocre pacer (Ishant Sharma) ; expect Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman to anchor the innings all the time ; using defensive field settings. India are still doing the same thing and so effectively, the change in captaincy hasn't brought about much changes and on the other hand, Australia still have the solid middle order of Ponting, Hussey and Clarke ; the pace bowling unit successfully replaced and their only failure being, not finding an appropriate replacement for Shane Warne (who, in any case had retired much before the previous series).

So, I fail to understand the reason for placing heavy expectations on MS Dhoni's men when hardly anything has changed in the batting or bowling unit or the team philosophy. In fact, the only thing that has changed is the expectation on Team India and when that happens to be the only change, it'd inevitably lead to  disappointment in the hearts of a billion fans.  

Have a nice day.

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